Climate Change: The Sins of Our Fathers
This dispatch arrived last night from our good friend and 2006 Change It participant, Joseph Kaifala, who wanted to share some of his thoughts on what’s happening in Africa.
As I was listening to BBC Network Africa this morning I heard of the increasing rainfalls that are currently devastating certain regions in Africa. According to the report, at least 17 countries have been hit in West, Central and East Africa by some of the worst rains in living memory. It also reported that at least 500,000 people have been affected by the floods in just twelve countries. An approximated 400,000 people have been affected in Uganda alone by what the BBC refers to as the country’s heaviest rainfall in 35 years.
At this point you might be thinking exactly what I thought: Climate Change. Well, you are right to think it because scientists have predicted such effects on Africa several times within the past four years. But of course, like everything else that concerns Africa, could anyone ever listen?
Earlier this year it was revealed by scientific investigation that Africa is 0.5 C warmer than it was a century ago, but that Africa is simply bearing the brunt of problems created in the rich industrial countries. The report, (Climate Change and Africa) in May 2007 aired on both BBC Focus and Network Africa reports stated that food production in countries in the Horn and the Sahel regions is always at the mercy of the climate, and the rising temperatures are putting those arid areas in an even more precarious position. Recently, a renewed study by the economist William Cline quantified drastic reductions in agricultural productivity in many of Africa’s poorest countries by the 2080s if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Such declines are expected to be severe in places like Sudan and Senegal where agricultural production is predicted to fall by more than half, while other African countries will experience a reduction by 30-40 percent. I swear we don’t deserve this one.
This to me is tantamount to a pronouncement of future damnation for many African countries, taking into consideration already existing challenges such as diseases and the general lack of basic developmental infrastructures. But the predicted doom itself is not much of a concern as much as the fact that Africa barely has anything to do with the sins for which it must now face punishment. Africa is approximately 14% of the world’s population, responsible for only about 3.2% of global carbon emissions. This is not enough to add much effect to the predicted climatic changes, but Africa has again become the victim of irresponsible behavior in the industrialized countries. We can only pray that the industrial countries will take the matter seriously enough, instead of spending their time with polar beers in Greenland and doing very little to save even those poor creatures. Well, as we say in West Africa, “when a cow threatens to leave a large dung in the middle of the road to stop pedestrians from using it, it must not forget that the dung will first pass through its own rear.”