SEMANA, September 12, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Sixty-five victims were reported killed in Colombia last year, reports the NGO Global Witness. According to a report by the NGO Global Witness, 227 environmentalists were killed in the world in 2020, a record statistic that has Colombia as its leader, since it was the country in the world where there were the most cases of this kind.

According to this Monday’s report, nearly three of every four cases took place in Central and South America. In Colombia alone, 65 of these murders were reported, which makes it, for the second consecutive year, the most lethal country for environmentalists.

Other countries like México (30), Philippines (29), Brazil (20), Honduras (17), and another dozen countries follow Colombian on the list. The Central American countries, Guatemala (13), Nicaragua (12), and Costa Rica (1), are also part of the count, as well as Argentina (1).

The report emphasizes that the victims share a number of characteristics, including the facts that 70% of them are working to stop deforestation, and that all of them (except one person) live in developing countries. Another thing they have in common is that one third of the murdered environmentalists belong to the original peoples.

In México, according to the document, the attacks increased by 67% over 2019. One of the most notorious cases was the murder of Oscar Eyraud, one of the leaders of the Kumiai people. For several months he had been complaining that a brewery was monopolizing the potable water in his region. In September of 2020, the man was murdered.

The report points out that many governments “are not protecting the defenders of the environment; in numerous cases they perpetrate the violence against them directly, and in others they may be complicit with companies that are interested in silencing activists.”

The organization began documenting these statistics in 2012, and they have already shown that in the last three years more killings have been reported than in earlier reports. While there were 167 cases in 2018, in 2019 there were already 212, and last year, 227. This year the report focuses on “industries that are causing the climate crisis and attacks against defenders of the environment,” as the report is titled.

The NGO warned that extraction of lumber (23), building of dams (20), agroindustry (17), and mining (17), are the sectors connected to the majority of the crimes. “The demand for the highest earnings ( . . . ) at the lowest possible cost appears to translate eventually into the idea that anyone who opposes the project will have to disappear,”  the United States environmentalist Bill McKibben explains in the document.

The Costs of Global Warming

A study published in Environmental Research Letters warns that economic models of climate change may have underestimated the costs of global warming.

This kind of projection could help governments to calculate the costs and benefits related to policies they promote regarding emissions of greenhouse gases.

The study, which was carried out by an international team of scientists, found that the economic damage could be six times higher at the end of this century than previously estimated.

According to a communication from UCL (University College London), which took part in the study, the models that were formerly used may have ignored important risks and thus, underestimated the costs.

The new analysis pointed out that the majority of the models used had focused on short term damage, and therefore concluded that climate change did not have a lasting effect on economic growth, in spite of the increasing amount of contrary evidence.

However, the authors of the study state that it’s probable that the extreme events, such as droughts, fires, heat waves, and storms cause economic damage in the long term because of their impact on health, savings, and worker productivity.

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