Mexico is one of the countries more vulnerable to climate change according to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative. In the northwest of Mexico, more precisely in Mexicali and its surroundings, the consequences are there. Mexicali with only 15 days of rain and the rise of temperatures in the last 5 years (104ºF in average) depends heavily of the water from the Colorado River to survive.
The river doesn’t reach Mexico in the old fashion way, after providing water for 40 Million people in 7 states in the United States it dies in the border before crossing. Dammed and redirected through channels and pipes for human consumption (20%) and agricultural purpose(80%) at the Mexican side.The old and dried riverbed is the reminder of what happens when a river is over exploited over the decades.
The river is drying up since 2000, the Colorado River has been locked in what experts say is a long term drought exacerbated by climate change, the most severe drought in the last 1,250 years, it has lost 19% of his water flow and with warmer temperatures, most of the precipitation arrives as rain, which quickly runs off rather than being stored as mountain snow, by 2020 low water levels on the Colorado River could force water shortages in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico, according to a new forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Many water experts are deeply worried about the growing shortage of water from this combination of overexploitation and diminishing supply.
Also the heat is a problem, according Greenpeace’s Mexico Report on climate change, as a consequence of the greenhouse effect, the increases in temperature that previously occurred over ten thousand years now will occur in a few decades, this speed exceeds the potential for biological adaptation of crops, flora and fauna that could be extinguished over time.
The consequences of the over exploitation of water and the increasing of heat in the Valley of Mexicali is the declining of agriculture, the substitution of crops for others more resilient to heat, less dependable of water and at the same time less profitable. This consequences will increase the migration from Mexico to the United States, mostly because a lot of Mexican migration is being drive either by vulnerability to crop loss or wage laborers losing their jobs because farmers can no long afford to hire them, making people to migrate in order to provide or even survive. Only the loss of 10 percent of the Mexican harvests could cause that the emigration towards the north increases between 1.4 million and 6.7 million people according to an investigation of the Princeton University.
Climate change in Mexico and any part of the world is not only about the environment but also it has become an issue of social justice; Structural poverty is made worse by climate change and these effects undoubtedly increase poverty levels, diminish job opportunities, threaten food safety and most importantly will increase migration.