I am personally finding it very hard to get excited about the upcoming climate change talks in Copenhagen to agree on emissions limits – you see Africa is already facing the brunt of climate change
Now studies show that Climate has been a major driver of armed conflict in Africa, and future warming is likely to increase the number of deaths from war.
Discussing the Copenhagen meeting brought me as close to a domestic dispute as I’ve ever been in. Over a bowl of oat meal I became quite angry.
I think that the Copenhagen meetings will not deliver the commitments needed. My partner says that even if it doesn’t, something is better than nothing. I disagree…look at these graphs
According to the European Climate Foundation analysis – and others we will not meet the targets for reduction in carbon emissions – commitments made so far are probably not enough to meet the G8 target
With all the squabbling about who is to blame for the state of the situation, and who should pay for curbing the problem we seemed to have lost sight of the fact that we need to stop emitting carbon. But who should stop?
The problem we know is that the growing worlds middle class in places like China, Brazil and India are driving the rapid increase in emissions. But emissions per capita are still highest in America and Europe – regions whose growth got us to this situation in the first place.
But which government leader will agree to reductions in standards of living? Should Americans accept a Chinese standard of living, should Chinese and other developing world people sacrifice growth towards a higher standard of living.. ..you see the solution is obvious but yet it’s too hard a problem to solve in one meeting, and I’m not sure that what little progress we make at Copenhagen will be worth the air miles.
Am I wrong or does it feel like we are bailing out our sinking ship with a teaspoon?
In February 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that global warming is “unequivocal” and that human-produced carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are chiefly to blame, to a certainty of more than 90 percent. In fact scientists had been warning about the impact of carbon emissions since the 1950’s! What if we started capping emissions back then?
The fact that we’ve known about the problem for a long time and done nothing about it makes me fear that it’s like getting gangrene in your toe – it’s annoying, it smells and it’s getting worse slowly. By the time you actually believe your doctor about the seriousness of your situation it’s in your hip and by then cutting off your toe is a waste of time. It’s spread too far and the condition is going to kill you. Faster or slower will depend on whether you take your medication or not.
The current issue of The Economist the last page states that
“According to the International Energy Agency energy demand in OECD countries is expected to all slightly by 2015. In 2007 these nations used around 5.5 billion tones of oil equivalent, compared to 6.2 billion tones in non – OECD counties. But that is widening because the annual rate of growth of non members energy use is predicted to be more than ten times that of member economies between 2007 and 2030. Chinese energy demand will overtake Americas by 2015.
By 2030 china and India together will account for almost a third of the global energy use. By then the world will consume 16.8 billion tones of oil equivalent. Coal will fuel the bulk of China’s increased energy use”.
And this graph below tells me that there is no way in hell that the world can meet carbon emissions targets if these coal consumption trends are correct”.
Michel Jarraud, the head of the World Meteorological Organization, warned that levels of greenhouse gases have reached a record high. They have risen every year since detailed records began in 1998, and that the pace of increase was quickening. I’m always amazed when predictions include “Treacherous floods, deadly droughts, rising sa levels and the displacement of millions of people as refugees have all been predicted if temperatures rise as expected“. These predictions are already reality in Africa.
So you see, I wanted to tell my partner that he scoop that teaspoon as fast as he liked, it’s not going to save this sinking ship.
He stormed off refusing to admit I was right. My ruined breakfast was irrelevant on the big scale of things. Most Kenyans have no idea that climate change is the cause of the recurrent droughts, that the failed crops, livestock deaths, spreading diseases and deepening poverty and intensifying clashes are all interlinked with the global addiction to a carbon based fuels.
Sometimes it feels insensitive to say this but wildlife is one of the victims of these climate changes. Hundreds of hippos have died this year in the Tsavo West National Park due to the drought. Hundreds of elephants, thousands of waterbuck, buffalo, antelopes and other species have died or are dying across Kenya. It is tragic but there is little we can do against climate change but help pastoralists suffering from human wildlife conflict. We know from past droughts that wildlife will rebound, but this can only happen if we strictly protect our parks and conservation areas.
Saving Africa’s wildlife and protected areas is not just for the pleasure of rich tourists, there is another fundamental reason why we should do this. It’s self preservation. These natural areas are critically important locally as safe havens for species that we depend on for foods. As we have seen in Kenya, protected areas enable us to have cities like Nairobi – without the Aberdares and Mt Kenya National Park and forests we would not have water or electricity in our capital city Nairobi. Our water catchments are all protected and when we let them go the consequences are devastating as we have found out in the Mau. Nobody questions that the forest must be saved – we have recently discovered that millions of people are affected by the loss of forest cover there. It affects weather, climate, farming, water amount and quality as well as entire indusrties like fisheries in Lake Naivasha.
Our wilderness areas in Africa may be our most valuable defense against global climate change – already Africa is feeling the brunt of the impact of rising atmospheric carbon even though we contributed little to it. It’s time that resources are pumped into Africa to halt the loss of natural systems as a planet saving strategy – lose natural areas and we lose the free services of rainforest and woodland carbon mops. Saving Africa’s wilderness will necessarily require that we address the cause of the destruction – it’s poverty. If we can focus global priorities on addressing extreme poverty we could save the forests and other important natural ecosystems, for this and future generations.
Thank you for your all your continued support