Severe heat makes the border crossings between the United States and Mexico even more dangerous

Two immigrant families from Brazil pass through a gap in the border wall to seek asylum in the United States on June 20, 2021

Two immigrant families from Brazil pass through a gap in the border wall to seek asylum in the United States on June 20, 2021
Photo: Eugene Garcia (AP)

Drought is already a leading cause of death for migrants crossing the border from Mexico into the United States, and conditions will only get worse as the climate continues. warmAccording to new research published earlier this month in Science.

the study Migrants crossing the border between Nogales, Mexico, and Three Points, Arizona, search for a piece of land commonly used by immigrants. The researchers compiled a database of deaths in this region over a period of nearly 40 years and tallied them to the hottest months of the year between May and September. They then used a biophysical model of human drought to calculate which points along this stretch would be the most lethal, and compare them to a map of the 93 deaths in their data set; The researchers found that the majority of these deaths were linked to the regions of the map where people would be most dehydrated.

“We provide the first experimental evidence that the physiological stresses experienced by humans attempting to cross the Sonoran Desert into the United States are sufficient to cause severe drought and associated conditions that can lead to death,” said Ryan Long, associate professor of wildlife sciences. at the University of Idaho and the study’s senior author, He said In a press release. “[A] A disproportionately large proportion of migrant deaths occur in areas with high expected rates of water loss.”

While people who make the crossing usually carry water, the average amount they bring The study found that it is not enough to prevent the most serious cases of drought.

“Having enough drinking water to support the high rates of water loss that occurred during the journey potentially makes the difference between life and death for many migrants,” Long said.

To better illustrate the conditions that people may encounter upon dangerous crossing, the study quotes people who have migrated from Mexico to the United States, describing the challenges. from their trips.

“We were dying of thirst,” Lucho, a 47-year-old immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico, said. He said in an interview in 2009. “I was delirious at that point. We were surrounded by dirt but I kept seeing water everywhere in the desert.”

Temperature conditions at the border are set to worsen with climate change. Arizona is the fourth fastest warming state in the United States and you’re already seeing 50 dangerous hot days a year, which is set to become 80 days by 2050. To get a better handle on how dangerous border crossings can be, researchers connected Models of future warming in the region, Based on a midway climate forecastAnd In a model of water loss during walk-along scenarios.

“We find that the migrant journey will become significantly more dangerous over the next 30 years,” said Rina Walker, a graduate student at U of I and co-lead author of the study, in the statement. Their calculations indicate that by 2050, People crossing the border on foot You’ll see at least a 30% increase in water loss during the flight due to higher temperatures.

The research comes at a particularly turbulent time on the frontier. In August, the US Border Patrol reported roughly 200,000 encounters with migrants along the border In July alone, its highest level in 20 years. Customs and Border Protection also reported 470 deaths among migrants at the border Between January and October this year, the highest number since 2005; 43 bodies were recovered In the wake of a severe heat wave in Arizona in June.

While immigration between the United States and Mexico is complex and influenced by many factors, climate change certainly is immigration leadership, including the impact of extreme weather, such as two back-to-back cyclones last year, as well as displacement due to crop failures and droughts. The crisis on the US border is not the only crisis exacerbated by the climate. Last year, the United Nations defined climate change as An emerging threat that is already displacing people around the world, Which It will only get worse as the world warms.

more: Rich countries spend more on border security than on climate aid

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