04 February 2007

Here comes the water

With all the fuss about the recognition that climate change is man-made, the Argentine media manufactured their usual lightweight news to alert the people that, indeed, we've been so careless that pollution is suddenly causing Buenos Aires (and some other less important places, such as the rest of the country) to be hot as hell. Doña Rosa* feels reassured, since this is what she's been saying all along.

* "Doña Rosa" is Bernardo Neustadt's mildly elitist personification of (the lowest common denominator of) public opinion. If you weren't in Argentina and at least in your teens during the 1980s, just forget the reference.

The good news is that the IPCC's report has been so widely publicized that nobody can ignore it anymore (we hope). Of course the denial freaks up there in the United States (mainly), who insist that global warming is a pinko/hippie myth created by the New World Order minions of the UN, will keep to their belief, but sensible governments, and even George W. Bush, will now have to respond to extra pressure on the issue.

On the local front, climate has indeed been erratic and tending to the extreme, as you can see by reading some of my posts. If you allow me to sink to the level of anecdotic evidence (Telenoche passes that for evening news all the time, so why not me?), I'd never seen such weird weather before the 1990s. Back in school, we were told that Rosario was in the Humid Pampa, a fertile plain with temperate climate and four distinct seasons. That seems to be changing now. Winters are shorter, with a few scattered occurrences of week-long cold spells, and no rain at all. In the summer, you have several days of increasing temperatures up to a point where hell breaks loose and terrible storms bring winds, rain and hail in massive amounts; then the sky clears and the cycle repeats. Spring is prone to rain and hot as well, and autumn is brief, windy, unstable, but much less rainy that it used to (ten years ago in April and May, you couldn't go out without an overcoat and/or an umbrella). The whole region seems to be shifting toward a subtropical climate with two seasons: dry and rainy.

As of now, the north of Argentina is getting a lot of precipitation. People got flooded in Salta and Tucumán, and downstream along the course of the Salado River, in Santiago del Estero, a dam broke, apparently not because it was badly built (as it always happens) but because it simply wasn't designed to contain that much water.

It's also been raining a lot in the upper course of the Argentine portion of the Paraná River (around the Iguazú Falls), and all that water is coming down. In Corrientes, the capital of the province of the same name, 1,000 families in 17 barrios of the city have been affected, 100 people have had to be relocated, and the level of the river is expected to increase even more. The experts down here estimate that that flow will reach our area in about three weeks, and the level will rise by 40 cm, enough to cause some trouble in the islands off the coast of Rosario in the flood plain of the Paraná (see? that's why they call it a flood plain). The farmers are already moving their cattle to safer places, since the islands are rather low-lying. On this side, the river will flood half the sandy beach of La Florida, but nothing more. The good thing about Rosario is that the Paraná cannot flood it because it's built on higher terrain; rain flows naturally away from the center and off an abrupt natural ravine.

In the meantime, a heat wave has been hitting us for a week, and it was supposed to end today with a heavy rainstorm, but yesterday afternoon the sky turned overcast, cool gusts of wind blew for a couple of hours, and only a few drops fell here and there — we're cloudy today, and rather hot again, though it's bearable. My parents got married around this time of year, 31 years ago; I guess nobody would set that date today — you might get a scorching sunny day just as well as a tropical storm...


  1. Did you see Al Gore´s movie, "The inconvenient truth"? It´s very interesting. -in fact, I think a great political speech overall-
    I´m studying Environmental Sciences at the UBA and there has not being much debate or students interest on the subject... lástima no?

    (I don´t comment too much but I DO READ you. Keep it on!)

  2. I didn't see the movie. Modesty aside, I don't think it will tell me anything that I don't know already, except it may do it in a different way (i.e. from the POV of a man who had a lot of actual power to enforce changes).


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.