Latin America Climate Stories
A Climate Stories Project interview (in Spanish) with Humberto Crespo of Las Maravillas, Cuba. Humberto speaks about his experience as a farmer and the changes in the climate he has observed. Here is an English translation:
My name is Humberto Crespo and I live in Las Maravillas. I can notice a significant change in the rain. The rainy season here used to begin in the month of March, and it would finish in November. As time has gone by, in the months of March and April, it now barely rains. Before, the rain came in May, which was officially the start of the rainy season, and it would rain every day. Now, the rain begins in June, and it isn’t like years ago. Years ago, we would get torrential rains—today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. Now it rains today, then it clears up on the same day. A week, sometimes 15 days go by, without any rain.
The dry season, which goes from the month of November to the month of March, was the season of the cold fronts. The cold fronts would come from North America, and back then we would get a persistent rain sometimes lasting a week, sometimes two cold fronts would come together. Now even with the cold front it rains for ten minutes or maybe half an hour, then the cold front moves on and the sun starts shining as if we were in August. Its no longer cold here—it has been 5 or 6 years we haven’t had cold—until this year in the month of February we got to wear our winter coats. The months of November, December and January used to be the coldest months of the year, now these months aren’t cold anymore, not this year, nor any of the recent years, this is why I say that you the change is in plain sight.
You can no longer follow the calendar by the seasons the same way my father and grandfather did. They would follow the calendar because it was very precise like a clock that never failed. People used to say that September 21st was the day in which the weather would change; here we only have two noticeable seasons, the summer and the winter, and on September 21st was when change came in the season.
This is the way it used to be, but now it has nothing to do with that. And people have lost faith in the calendar because it the season doesn’t matter and now people start planting beans in August. Here we are in March and there are still beans on the ground. Another thing is that now during our dry season it rains in the eastern part of the country, where it used to be very dry. The cold season used to be the dry season and in the eastern part of Cuba they had 200 or 300 cubic milliliters of rain, a very unusual thing.
Transcribed and translated by Carolina Torres.
A Climate Stories Project interview (in Spanish) with Rose Marie Menacho of Escazu, Costa Rica. Rose Marie speaks about changes in temperature and rainfall, and the impact of climate change on Costa Rican bird species. Here is a translation in English:
Hello, my name is Rose Marie Menacho and I want to tell you a little about my experience with climate change and my thoughts on this topic. I live in Escazu, Costa Rica, and I’m a biologist. It seems to me that climate change has been very gradual, where you see changes that perhaps, aren’t obvious for us, but they are evident. For example, the days are warmer, the nights are also much warmer, and it’s concerning what could happen with the mosquitoes, which are abundant and can transmit dengue and other diseases. For example, here in Costa Rica, in Pérez Zeledón (a region of Costa Rica), there is a dengue plague, and it’s not just here where you see these kinds of problems. So, sometimes it’s so hot that you want to hide somewhere else, but there is nowhere else to go.
As I’m a biologist, I’ve seen a lot of changes in bird populations, for example. Here in Costa Rica, in Escazu in the Central Valley, there are bird species that have arrived that weren’t here before. The Paloma ala blanca (White-winged dove) has become very common. The Chico piojo (Rufus-naped wren) is a species from low-elevation zones that wasn’t here, the Loro nuca amarilla (yellow-naped parrot) is arriving, and although this could seem like good news, at the same time it’s a change. Something is happening in the environment in which low-elevation bird species are moving to higher elevations.
And the most extreme changes, we’ve just been through four days of constant rain, what Costa Ricans call a “temporal,” but in reality this is not common for this time of year. The heavy rain caused flooding in San Salvador, and possibly big problems for poor people in this region. And if it keeps raining here for more days, we are concerned because it could cause mudslides and flooding here in the Central Valley, where many people live.
What climate change is causing is worry, uncertainty, and above all fear, because we aren’t making a clear change in how we do things. Although the Coronavirus epidemic has greatly reduced human activity—there have been less cars, less airplanes—we are returning to normal as if we didn’t know another way to do things. (Costa Rican) president Carlos Alvarado wants with his government to have an electric train in the country, which would be great. And I hope that the people in future governments support the project, because there are people who just want to return to petroleum and similar traditional industries. Well, that’s my message and I hope you find it interesting. Goodbye!