A state of catastrophe was declared in central Chile in August after severe weather led to serious flooding.
More than 30,000 people were evacuated from the area, with 800 homes experiencing damage, according to government data provided by BNN Bloomberg.
Chile has been severely affected by extreme weather conditions in recent months amid the El Niño weather pattern.
June brought flooding to Santiago, the country’s capital, leading to evacuations of citizens amid what Santiago metropolitan area governor Claudio Orego said was the “worst weather front we have had in 10 years,” per Reuters.
Now, the central-south region has seen flooding and landslides that have cut locals off from essential services and prevented access to electricity.
What is El Niño?
According to National Geographic, El Niño is a weather phenomenon that begins with unusually warm waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. This then leads to increased precipitation.
It can occur in two- to seven-year intervals, but it is difficult to predict. It can also impact trade winds and atmosphere.
Unusually high winter temperatures in Chile have resulted in a more intense El Niño, and the rainfall that has spread throughout the country has displaced a number of citizens and caused the destruction of homes and businesses through flooding.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric has warned that environmental disasters like this will be more common because of global heating.
“We have to get used to them because they will become more frequent,” Boric said, per BNN Bloomberg. “We have to adapt and make substantive changes to the way we understand our territory.”
What can be done to prevent torrential rainfall in Chile?
Stopping severe weather events is near impossible, but taking positive action to reduce pollution can help to make their impact less severe.
Increasing temperatures makes weather events like El Niño much worse, and pollution acts like a blanket over the Earth, trapping heat.
We can all do our part to minimize pollution, such as using public transport or walking instead of taking the car on short journeys. Making a conscious effort to avoid household waste going to landfills will also make a huge difference. According to the Environment Protection Agency, landfills are among the United States’ most potent producers of methane gas, which is 28 times more powerful at warming the Earth than carbon dioxide.
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