climate change

FACING THE FACTS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA

According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index for 2015, seven of the ten countries most at risk from climate change are in Africa. No matter how fast we reduce emissions, we’re still going to have significant climate impacts as we’re seeing right now with extreme heat and heavy rains.

What are the facts on the ground regarding climate change?
The changes in precipitation and temperature are already affecting crop yields in Sub-Saharan Africa. This has resulted in food shortages and price hikes, which have triggered cross border migration and intraregional conflicts, sparking bouts of political instability and military intervention. Africa’s agricultural sector is already hampered by its reliance on rain-fed irrigation, poor soils, and antiquated technology and farming methods. It is likely to be hit hard as droughts and flooding worsen, temperatures and growing seasons change, and farmers and herders are forced off their land.

West Africa has been described as a climate-change hotspot, with climate change likely to reduce crop yields and production, resulting in food safety disruptions. Add to that, the socio-economic and political problems also are getting worse and the picture is grim. Southern Africa will be affected as well. The western part of Southern Africa is set to become drier, with an increasing frequency of droughts and heatwaves at the end of the 21st century. We’ve also seen news stories about South Africans needing to
queue up for water.

A warming world will have an impact on precipitation. At 1.5°C, less rain would fall over the Limpopo basin and the Zambezi basin areas of Zambia, as well as parts of Western Cape in South Africa, killing all forms of agro-related and naturally occurring vegetation.

What will be disrupted by climate change?
Many Africans argue that the continent is the least responsible for emissions, the least prepared for the changes, will require the most efforts to adapt and is already burdened with human security challenges related to poverty and conflict. We did not kick start the industrial revolution, we don’t have up to 40
nuclear reactors on the continent, walking is still a valid form of transportation, and many states in Africa do not have an airport. Why are we the ones to go through all this suffering while the rest of the world bickers about whether climate change is real or not?

For sub-Saharan Africa, which has experienced more frequent and more intense climate extremes over the past decades, the ramifications of the world’s warming by more than 1.5° C would be profound. Migration is the biggest disruption ladies and gentlemen, yes, we are all going to consider leaving Africa
at some point to settle wherever the weather permits. Political power is also going to be diminished greatly, you see people don’t mind having a leader as long as food, shelter, and community are sorted, but when you take that out, the laws are a bit more savage, the survival of the fittest anyone? Tourism will be affected due to a loss of habitats and biodiversity, and due to changes in temperature, humidity and malaria risk, and represents the biggest potential economic loss since tourism contributes as much
as 10% of GDP.

How can we adapt to these changes?
The goal of UN Environment’s climate change-related activities in Africa is twofold; Support African countries to reduce vulnerability and build resilience to the impacts of climate change through ecosystem-based adaptation. Promote the development of renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency as part of the sustainable energy for all initiative and climate mitigation effort. No continent will be struck as severely by the impacts of climate change as Africa. Given its geographical position, the continent will be particularly vulnerable due to the considerably limited adaptive capacity and exacerbated by widespread poverty. Well-meaning individuals and nations have been assisting the continent with donations even though the impact is minimal.

Does this mean we can do nothing? NO! the odds are long but we have a shot!
There is growing international recognition of the potential for high tech development, science, and innovation in Africa. Consider the rise of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies which have become normal in African business. Our ability to absorb and repurpose new technology means that we have a shot at actually minifying the impacts of climate change. Higher education and research in Africa are key to solving problems caused by climate change. For years the world has talked about primary education for Africa, but Africans are already telling a different story.

Biotechnology is another solution proposed by African scientists. With careful use, it can provide crops that give higher yields in dry and barren land and be a major contributor to food security. Although there is an increasing number of examples of biotech crops in Africa, compared to Latin America and Asia, the use of biotechnology is extremely low and South Africa is the only country in Africa to commercialize biotech crops so far. Objective data and research are essential to effective governance and democratic oversight and will be crucial to getting our agricultural systems above starvation
capacity.

Even though we continue to get negative reports about climate change in Africa, I believe that we have all the intelligence and resources needed to battle this scourge.

Black Lives Matter!

This article was written by Kenechukwu Nwaezeoke, a prolific content writer with TYLC

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