Latin America and the Caribbean face a greater risk of more natural disasters because of environmental degradation and climate change, campaigners warn.

A report by a coalition of environment and aid groups said the region's weather was becoming less predictable and often more extreme. Evidence showed many areas were more vulnerable because depleted ecosystems were struggling to adapt, they argued. The groups said efforts to end poverty were being undermined as a result.

The report, Up in Smoke? Latin America and the Caribbean, presented evidence it said showed that the livelihoods of millions of people in the region were at risk, including:

* Increased storm intensity - the 2005 hurricane season was "one of the most active and destructive in history"

* Water shortages - changes to glacier melt in the Andes were affecting river flows and threatening water supplies, leading to a greater risk of disputes

* Illegal logging and deforestation - linked to increased carbon emissions, and leaves area prone to a greater risk of flooding

The report's author, Andrew Simms, from the New Economics Foundation (Nef), said the findings highlighted how climate change was having an impact on global efforts to eradicate poverty.

"The region has had to deal with highly variable climates for many centuries. It has developed very resilient forms of agriculture based upon high levels of diversity of crops, which are adapted to grow in a wide range of microclimates. "The danger that now seems to be facing people in the region is that those conditions could become more permanent and more extreme," he said.


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