Why is the City of Buenos Aires in danger due to climate change?

Why is the City of Buenos Aires in danger due to climate change?

By Juan Carlos Travela

Contrary to what a wide sector of society believes, the danger of extinction does not affect only exotic species, or animals that inhabit very distant places. As the Uruguayan ecologist Eduardo Gudynas argues in his book Rights of Nature, "the mass extinction of species is increasing on a global scale", and the human species is not immune to this possibility. If we take for example the 2014 Living Planet Report published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the data are overwhelming: "The Living Planet Index (IPV), which measures more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, has decreased by 52% since 1970. In other words, in less than two human generations, the size of vertebrate animal populations has halved. "

Not more than a few decades ago those who made this type of affirmations were crazy, but as 2017 passed and before the visible effects of the civilizational crisis, the consensus regarding the real possibility of extinction of the human species is close to being unanimous. From the United Nations and the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) to a large part of the academy in its broad ideological spectrum agree on this point.

Thus, the recent ECLAC Report entitled Horizons 2030: equality at the center of sustainable development affirms that “humanity is facing a point of no return: the environmental impact of the dominant development style endangers its survival and that of other species ”, and highlights the need to modify the current development style, which it considers socially and environmentally unsustainable.

For this organization, the dominant development style in the region is based on a productive structure whose competitiveness depends on the abundance and intensive exploitation of natural resources, and the greatest difficulty is found in the economy, given the set of interests and alliances that predominate and define the rules of the game. "Various actors, both public and private, have an interest in protecting their investments and the current distribution of returns."

In turn, the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are considered an advance compared to what were the Millennium Goals, and highlights a new policy agenda in the region that respond to the search for this new style of developing.

However, when we go beyond the green marketing carried out by the current government of Cambiemos, we find what, very correctly, Maristella Svampa and Enrique Viale defined as the "trumpization of environmental policy", which is completely to be the new policy agenda highlighted by ECLAC.

As these authors maintain, Mauricio Macri's management is characterized by the relaxation of environmental protection regulations. The modification of the Glacier Law, the new Mining Agreement, the new Law for the Management of the Native Forest of the province of Buenos Aires at the service of real estate businesses and agribusiness, the modification of the National Rural Lands Law, and the relaunch of Vaca Muerta, among other measures respond to this logic, happening what paradoxically highlights the ECLAC about the 1990s: “In the 1990s, humanity traveled through two worlds with agendas in tension or in open contradiction. On the one hand, there was the normative agenda of the United Nations, described above. On the other hand, there was a deregulated economic system, particularly with regard to the financial world, whose assets were multiplying rapidly, with less and less support in the real economy. This system prioritized trade liberalization, without taking into account the specific problems of competitiveness, external balance and environmental deterioration that affected developing economies ”.

The contradictions between the model that ECLAC tries to propose and the decisions taken from the government administration can easily be explained from this argument, so it can be argued that in this area we went back to the 90s.

On the other hand, consensus continues throughout the ideological arc, thus while Political Ecology states that the energy crisis is imminent and the depletion of oil is closer and closer, as highlighted by ECLAC, the governor of the Bank of England alerts investors on the risks of investing in oil due to the climate crisis.

Coastal cities are the main affected by climate change, increasingly plagued by frequent extreme events. This must be an additional reason why the resistance and the struggle for the Rights of Nature necessarily manage to conquer the cities.

There is no tepidity in ECLAC when it states that "if all the proven reserves of fossil fuels were burned, the ice of Antarctica would completely melt, the sea level would rise more than 50 meters, and the coastal cities would be eliminated." Correspondingly, we are not lukewarm in stating that the City of Buenos Aires is in danger of being submerged under the Río de La Plata.

* The author is a graduate in International Trade and a member of the Hacia El Buen Vivir group. He is currently a doctoral student in Economic Development.

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