Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mocoa - An Act of God or of Man?

The Mocoa tragedy was made worse by deforestation in the region and human-driven climate change.
When torrential rains pushed tons of mud over the town of Mocoa, in Putumayo Department, killing more than 300 people at the end of March, many condemned the 'natural disaster.'

Rescue workers in Mocoa this month.
However, the disaster's iimpact was made much worse by human actions which prepared the way. Colombia is suffering an accelerating deforestation. And the region surrounding Mocoa had been severely deforested during recent decades, reducing the soil's capacity to soak up rainwater. When rain falls onto deforested soil, it runs off quickly, carrying soil, trees and rocks with it. Forests can also serve as protective barriers. In fact, in El Carmen, the one Mocoa neighborhood which escaped destruction, residents had preserved their protective forest.

More broadly, The New York Times reports that more frequent natural disasters in places such as Colombia and Peru appear to be tied to human-driven global warming.

Before rushing to condemn the vagaries of nature, Colombians should also reflect upon their own actions.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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