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Can Government Protect Latin American Citizens and Ecosystems from Disastrous Climate Effects?

By Jennifer Freeman

Severe flooding wipes out entire communities in Rio, a hurricane devastates Cuba's food supply, prolonged drought follows Hurricane Mitch to further impoverish Central America, and Venezuela has not recovered from the December 1999 mudslides: Can a government protect its citizens from the disastrous effects of climate? The impacts of extreme weather and other climate events on energy consumption, water management, food security, health, and environmental justice in Latin America is the topic of a Jan. 31 - Feb. 2 conference at Columbia's Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS).

The "Climate Affairs in Latin America: Climate Issues and Policy Responses" conference will be held in 1501 International Affairs Building (15th Floor), School of International and Public Affairs. Discussion among scientists and international legal and political experts on the politics of climate negotiations will take place on Friday, Feb. 1, at 11:30 a.m.

The conference is sponsored by the Office of Global Programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Institute of Latin American Studies at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) of the Columbia Earth Institute.

"This will be the first time that climate experts have ever been drawn together to apply the notion of 'Climate Affairs' to Latin America," says Michael H. Glantz, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and special advisor to Columbia for climate affairs. Adds Susan Burgerman, associate director of ILAS, "We are very excited to have gathered such a stellar group of scientists, economic and environmental policymakers, and members of the academic community who work on these issues."

The event will examine Latin American climate issues from several angles, including the impact of climate on ecosystems in the region, the politics of climate and policy responses to meteorological events and the impact of climate on populations and social systems.

The Institute of Latin American Studies is the center for Latin America policy development and research at Columbia and is housed in (SIPA).

The Columbia Earth Institute is a leader in earth systems science teaching, research and the application of earth and social science for society. The Institute is the outcome of Columbia's commitment to enhance understanding of global sustainability through the collaborative work of physical, biological, and social scientists in cooperation with an informed and involved citizenry.

Published: Jan 31, 2002
Last modified:Sep 18, 2002

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