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How Does the Climate Crisis Affect These Rural Communities?

By Enrique Rodríguez - Someone Somewhere
Co-Founder and CFO


By Enrique Rodríguez Aréchiga | Co-Founder & COO - Thu, 11/24/2022 - 11:00

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My generation deserves a planet to live on and enjoy. The climate crisis is not an issue for the future: humanity is already suffering the consequences of the actions of the last decades.

Someone once told me the story of a remote indigenous community in northern Mexico that has been living off agriculture for many generations in a very sustainable way, but in the last few decades, the elders have decided to stop procreating because they have wrestled with environmental, social, and economic issues. In consensus and consciously, they have decided to extinguish their culture for not being able to ensure good living conditions for a new generation.

How does the climate crisis affect these rural communities?

First of all, the rainy seasons are delayed each year, so the crops do not have enough water to grow properly. The rivers are drying up because the agrotech industry is reserving all the water in private dams in the upper part of the river. If they don't have water, they can't produce enough food for themselves, so they must buy food to survive.

How can they buy goods if they don't have a formal job?

This is when the economic problems begin. The marginalized townspeople must leave their home to seek economic opportunities elsewhere. One option is to work in the fields for someone who has irrigation systems and that can pay them per trip (an average peso wage for farmers is aroundUS$7.5 per day in Mexico). This amount is not enough to support a family of four people, so this is when even the children have to leave their studies to help their parents increase the family income.

If young people leave their studies when they are 12 or 15 years old, some of them may want to work in something other than the fields, as they see their parents working long hours without real results. Some of the options they can find are:

Working in the cities as a construction worker, earning the minimum wage without health insurance, and living in peripheral slums, where they face new social challenges.

Enlisting in criminal gangs or cartels that offer them a large amount of money to operate their businesses, risking death.

Migrate to the US, paying "coyotes" to help them cross the desert with the hope of reaching the big American cities they see in the movies. They can work in construction or in the fields for US$7.5 an hour, so they can save a lot of money compared to their hometowns.

If people who migrate send money to those who stay at home, they will use the money to keep their children in primary school, buy fertilizer betting that they can get better crops in the next season, and buy food on a daily basis.  The issue is that money is never enough; they don't understand why basic goods are more expensive every year. They don't understand why the land gets sick and depends on expensive fertilizers.

When migration is the only solution, families are divided, the community is more vulnerable to social problems and then other problems can arise. If the territory owned by the communities has natural resources with commercial potential, the government, in the name of “progress,” could grant concessions to private companies to start extracting natural resources, build mines or extract wood. It is quite common to cheat communities by paying them low prices for their land and dispossessing them of the only possession they have.

Today, the most preserved lands in the world are directly related to the territories of Indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, from colonial times to the present, they have suffered from land dispossession.

Regarding environmental degradation, economic dynamics have led local communities to exploit their own resources without sustainable planning in order to achieve short-term economic benefits. Some other communities understand the consequences of wild exploitation of nature and have been fighting to defend their water, their bees, and their forest. Unfortunately, many brave activists around the world have been persecuted, threatened, or even killed over economic interests.

Since I was a child, I have enjoyed being in the sea, the mangroves, the jungles, the forests, the mountains, and the glaciers. I am a promoter of nature conservation and ecotourism because I see God in every creature, in every landscape, and in every sunset.

I want to continue breathing the cold air of the forest, feel the first sunrise on my skin, step barefoot on the wet sand, dive in deep colored reefs and count the millions of stars while camping in the middle of the desert.

I know that my generation is in danger, our common home is very sick. I don't want to be in the position of deciding whether or not it's worth bringing someone else into this world if my life is already uncertain.

Photo by:   Enrique Rodríguez

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