Climate change has been unleashing catastrophic events all across the world. The number of extreme weather events has only gone up in recent years. Floods, drought, storms, wildfires, rising sea levels have been wreaking havoc on communities causing deaths and destruction and forcing people to migrate en masse to safer places. The climate scenario projection for future looks even worse. For Rio de Janeiro, the capital city of Brazil, a country in Latin America, the residents are expected to bear the brunt of climate changes the most. With soaring temperature and rising sea level, the city has become vulnerable to growing instances of diseases and coastal flooding, threatening the lives and livelihood of many in the city.
Brazil, being of one the fastest growing economies in the world, has seen massive development in the last few decades. The climate change, however, has put many of its cities at risk of facing biblical level weather events, especially in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The city is expected to see a rise in its temperature by at least 3.4-degree celsius by 2080. Such warmer conditions are conducive to the proliferation of many viruses and bacteria, resulting in increased cases of gastroenteritis and other infectious diseases such as dengue and leptospirosis. Further, more and more people would become prone to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The elderly and infants would be among the worst affected groups as their organs are not that adapted to defend themselves against the diseases or heat.
Rio de Janeiro, best known for the beaches, may soon lose its charm to climate change. As per an estimate, the sea level is rising at a rate of 3 mm per year, driven by melting ice caps and glaciers and expansion of warmer ocean water. With that rate, it is expected to rise by 0.5-1.5 m by the end of this century. This would put 80,000 people and 125 square kilometres at risk of coastal flooding. The poor drainage system of the city would only exacerbate the flooding and landslides caused by summer rains and storms. Coupled with urban heat island effects, the day to day life of the people in the city would be severely impacted by frequent water shortages. The urban planning committee of the city would need to take changing climate into consideration while planning for the new buildings and factories in the areas which are susceptible to high risk of flooding.
Investment in flood maps and sea-level rise modelling projects are being made to mitigate any impacts of climate change. To reduce the threat substantially, the region needs to reduce its carbon footprints by switching to renewable sources of energy from the conventional one which has been causing greenhouse gases emission into the atmosphere. Newer strategies to ensure regular safe drinking water supply to its people in the city have to be formulated. Considering the magnitude of the threat, the city has been working on increasing its resilience and adaptive capacity by making climate change action plan a priority. But, a lot remains to be done.