Two weeks ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a final warning over climate change declaring that fossil fuel use must stop completely by 2100 to avoid catastrophic damage to the environment. But in some countries, the effects of climate change are already evident, and they may have as little as one decade to stop it.
Central America’s position between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans leaves it especially at risk from the extreme weather conditions caused by climate change, and Honduras is already suffering from its effects.
Vismar Ordonez, regional coordinator for the charity Red COMAL, has told me that since Hurricane Mitch crippled the country in October 1998, the wet and dry seasons have become less predictable and more extreme, with heavy rains often followed by severe droughts. This has become especially pronounced in the last three years.
For a population that is largely reliant on agriculture, where over 65 per cent of the country lives below the poverty line, these changes are felt keenly and food security is becoming a serious problem.
Heavy rains in winter are also badly affecting harvests, which has led to increasing malnutrition and poverty in certain areas. Maize and beans are two of the most common crops grown in Honduras and a bad harvest is devastating for much of the country’s rural population, with many struggling to provide for their families.
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
Calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers are seen floating on the water in Qaqortoq, Greenland
Oroumieh, one of the biggest saltwater lakes on Earth, has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers in the past decade. It shrinks mainly because of climate change, expanded irrigation for surrounding farms and the damming of rivers that feed the body of water
A boat navigates among calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers in Qaqortoq, Greenland. Boats are a crucial mode of transportation in the country that has few roads. As cities like Miami, New York and other vulnerable spots around the world strategize about how to respond to climate change, many Greenlanders simply do what theyve always done: adapt. 'Were used to change, said Greenlander Pilu Neilsen. 'We learn to adapt to whatever comes. If all the glaciers melt, well just get more land
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is seen after being inaugurated in Longyearbyen, Norway. The 'doomsday' seed vault built to protect millions of food crops from climate change, wars and natural disasters opened deep within an Arctic mountain in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
A technician preparing to drain a vast underground lake at the Tete Rousse glacier on the Mont Blanc Alpine mountain, to avert a potentially disatrous flood. Some 65,000 cubic metres (2.3 million cubic feet) of water have gathered in a cavity, dangerously raising the pressure beneath the mountain, a favourite spot for holiday makers in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
Cracked mud is picture at sunrise in the dried shores of Lake Gruyere affected by continuous drought near the western Switzerland village of Avry-devant-Pont. A leading climate scientist warned that Europe should take action over increasing drought and floods, stressing that some climate change trends were clear despite variations in predictions
Cattle graze on grassland that remains dry and brown at the height of the rainy season in south of Bakersfield, California. Its third straight year of unprecedented drought, California is experiencing its driest year on record, dating back 119 years, and dating back as far as 500 years, according to some scientists who study tree rings
An aerial view shows tents of flood-displaced people surrounded by water in southern Sehwan town. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres met with people displaced by last year's devastating floods. Catastrophic monsoon rains that swept through the country in 2010 and affected some 20 million people, destroyed 1.7 million homes and damaged 5.4 million acres of arable land
An aerial view of flooding in North Wagga Wagga. Climate change is amplifying risks from drought, floods, storm and rising seas, threatening all countries but small island states, poor nations and arid regions in particular, UN experts warned
Damages caused by a landslide on the Pan-American highway near La Moramulca, 55 Km south of Tegucigalpa. International highways have been washed out, villages isolated and thousands of families have lost homes and crops in a region that the United Nations has classified as one of the most affected by climate change
A resident sprays water on a peatland fire in Pekanbaru district in Riau province on Indonesia's Sumatra island. Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands, is one of the world's biggest carbon emitters because of rampant deforestation. US Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday issued a clarion call for nations to do to more to combat climate change, calling it 'the world's largest weapon of mass destruction'
An excavator clearing a peatland forest area for a palm oil plantations in Trumon subdistrict, Aceh province, on Indonesia's Sumatra island. As Southeast Asia's largest economy grows rapidly, swathes of biodiverse forests across the archipelago of 17,000 islands have been cleared to make way for paper and palm oil plantations, as well as for mining and agriculture. The destruction has ravaged biodiversity, placing animals such as orangutans and Sumatran tigers in danger of extinction, while also leading to the release of vast amounts of climate change-causing carbon dioxide
Stagnant rain water with tannery waste make the Hazaribagh area in Old Dhaka as well as Buriganga River the most polluted. Each year during the seven-month long dry season between October and April the Buriganga River becomes totally stagnant with its upstream region drying up and becoming polluted from toxic waste from city industries
Waste water from Dhaka city drained to the River Buriganga contributes to its pollutions. On the World Water Day observed in 2007 under the theme Coping with Water Scarcity, under the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, DrikNEWS explores some of the images of the river. UN-Water has identified coping with water scarcity as part of the strategic issues and priorities requiring joint UN action. The theme highlights the significance of cooperation and importance of an integrated approach to water resource management of water at international, national and local levels
Heavy smog has been lingering in northern and eastern parts of China, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools. China's Environment Ministry said it will send inspection teams to provinces and cities most seriously affected by smog to ensure rules on fighting air pollution are being enforced
This summer, an intense drought saw harvests drop by 80 per cent in some parts of Central America and the price of maize and beans rise by 40 per cent, forcing the government to declare a state of emergency. Droughts are not uncommon in the "dry corridor" of Central America, but they are occurring more frequently and intensifying. Due to the harshening conditions, many Hondurans have been forced to leave their homes, leading to an increase of migrants to the US.
There is still time to prevent this worst case scenario. Vismar and Red COMAL provide advice to Honduran farmers on how to adapt to climate change. If their lifestyle is to remain sustainable they need to start growing crops that need less water, such as avocados and mangoes.
The Honduran government and the international community have also invested a lot of money in helping Honduras deal with climate change, but it’s very difficult for them to have a substantial impact on a nationwide scale, and much of the money is lost on bureaucracy.
However, despite the dire predictions and the challenges in dealing with climate change, most Hondurans remain optimistic. As one farmer I speak to says “I’ll make sure my family have enough food for years to come, using whatever means necessary”.
Additional research by Jolyon HedgesReuse content