The people of South America are heavily dependent on the continents natural resources—from the rangelands at the foothills of the Andes, to the plants and animals of the Amazon rainforest, to the fisheries off the coast of Peru. The regions ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the changes in water availability expected with a changing climate. Higher global temperatures along with more frequent El Nino may bring increased drought and melting glaciers in the Andes threaten the future water supply of mountain communities. Signs of a warming climate have already appeared both at high elevations—in glacial retreat and shifting ranges of disease-carrying mosquitoes—and along the coast—in rising sea level and coral bleaching.
Conservation groups in the rain forest near Manaus, Brazil, are working to replant the rain forest and show people how it can be worth more to them as a standing resource than as logs and soybean fields.
Also, as Brazil’s tourist influx has grown, the opportunities for ecotourism and travel centered on the vibrant, variegated environment of the country have likewise increased and been heralded as an alternative means of turning Brazil’s rainforests and wildernesses into a livelihood for its residents.