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11 I Climate Change
12 I Depletion of the Ozone Layer page 465
page 425
Global Atmospheric Changes
“I am inclined to look at adaptation to any special
climate as a quality readily grafted on an innate wide
flexibility of constitution, which is common to most
Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species (XIXth century)
Climate change and the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer are two of
the main environmental challenges that humans face due to their impacts on
health, biodiversity and economic development.
The industrilization process has brought about an increase in greenhouse
gas emissions and a greater consumption of ozone-depleting substances. Because of its climatic, geographical, economic and social characteristics, Chile is
a country particularly vulnerable to these global-scale phenomena.
Climate change could have significant impact on the country, such as increasing the frequency of droughts, accelerating land degradation and desertification risks, among others. Some evidence recorded during the last century
includes: Significant changes in temperature, general rainfall reduction, diminished water flows in hydrographic basins, and a general trend towards mass
loss of glaciers.
On the other hand, due to its geographical location, Chile is particularly sensitive to the adverse effects of increased UVB ultraviolet radiation as a result of
ozone depletion. In the southernmost zones, this situation is even more critical
because the Antarctic ozone hole covers part of this area of the country.
At the global level, the country only contributes with a small percentage of
the pressures that cause these environmental problems. Nevertheless, Chile
has actively joined to international iniatiatives to promote actions to face these
threats, such as the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and Montreal Protocol on
ozone-depleting susbstances.
The current section describes the situation of these phenomena in the country in two chapters dealing with these topics: “Climate Change” and “Depletion
of the Ozone Layer”.