Impact of climate change on Costa Rican bird species

Rose Marie Menacho, woman wearing a blue sweater, in the background are trees

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. 

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