Climate change is a global problem that has very local consequences. Global Affairs director Professor Lisa Breglia and master’s student Jessica Smith traveled to Yucatán, Mexico to research how Maya farmers and beekeepers have been affected by changes in the environment over the past decades.
For generations, Maya farmers have depended on growing corn, beans, squash and other crops in small communally held plots known as milpas. The clearing, planting, and harvesting of crops is all done by hand using traditional tools. Due to the rocky topography and lack of irrigation, successful harvests are difficult to achieve and completely depend on climatic conditions––most importantly predictable and abundant rainfall.
Using qualitative research methods of oral history interviews, Breglia and Smith spoke with farmers aged approximately 60-80 years old who have lifetimes of experience working in their milpas. Their experiences indicate changing climatic conditions consistent with local level effects of climate change, including rainfall, temperature changes, and variations in soil quality and consistency. Smith will use the data gathered in Yucatán as the basis for her Global Affairs MA capstone project and Breglia will use the data as a contribution to her long term research on livelihood security in the Yucatán Peninsula.
July 12, 2019