As the world becomes a global village, climate change and its effects on parts of the earth, continue to threaten the human race, regardless of geographical location. CNN reports that 20 of the hottest years have all occurred in the past 22 years, with the past four years being the hottest on record. The earth’s average temperature has risen by nearly 2 degrees positing global warming as the greatest threat and the prominent component of current climate change. Environment: What Is Global Warming?
A report by the Fourth National Climate Assessment attributes these changes to human activities rather than natural causes. This leads us to the series of unfortunate events happening due to these climatic changes. For one, due to global warming, we have already lost Okjökull, an Icelandic glacier and the first to melt due to climate change.
Scientists would say that this was bound to happen since the glacier, OK for short, lost its status in 2014. Nonetheless, what’s more, disheartening is the fact that in the next 200 years all glaciers are expected to follow the same path, reports CNN.
From the ice sheet in Greenland to the towering glaciers in West Antarctica, these enormous masses of ice are melting fast and could end up like OK in no time. In the same beat, we cannot ignore the Amazon fire which is burning at an unprecedented rate also due to human activities.
How does this affect Africa?
The UN reports that no continent will be struck severely by the impacts of climate change as Africa, due to a couple of factors;
Limited adaptive capacity
Its geographical location.
Africa borders the southern half of the Mediterranean sea, with Atlantic ocean to the west and Indian ocean to the southeast.
Many would say this is a blessing considering that 90% of world trade is carried out by the sea. However, if glaciers continue to melt at the current rapid rate, this will pose a number of hazards for Africa and the planet at large, including;
A disrupt of the global economy
Water bodies like the Indian Ocean facilitate exportation and importation. Ports provide jobs in industries like seafood processing, shipbuilding, fishing and marine transportation. Glaciers like Okjökull, melting bring a rise in sea levels which could damage the infrastructure of many ports, disrupting processes and creating a ripple effect throughout the economy. The melting glaciers will also affect people’s access to food, water and energy hence exacerbating survival rates. Why you should consider using solar energy for your business and home needs.
Agriculture is also dominant in Kenya’s economy. By 2020, the UN projects a decrease in rain-fed agricultural yields, by 50% in some countries within Africa. These projections estimate that climate change will lead to an equivalent of 2-4% annual loss in GDP across Africa by the year 2040.
Melting glaciers bring a rise in sea levels. These rising sea levels contribute to warmer global temperatures affecting agriculture among other economic activities. Since these changes will also determine and limit what kind of crops farmers can grow, food will become scarcer, prices will rise and because people are also not getting access to the right types of foods undernourishment and malnutrition will become inevitable.
UN backs this fact by projecting that the rapid rise in temperatures in the current climate, could put 50% of Africa’s population at risk of undernourishment.
The threat to livelihoods of vulnerable people.
According to the UN, by 2020, between 75 and 250 million people in Africa are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change. Factoring this let’s start with people at the coast as coastal communities being near to the ocean are more susceptible to flooding. A consequence of sea flooding is the massive amounts of untreated sewage which will be flowing back to rivers, streams, streets and even homes. From this is pollution of water sources across the country and continent at large, the spread of diseases and let’s not forget the threat this pollution poses to wildlife in all ecosystems. Simply a health crisis will befall us.
“A world without glaciers would threaten water supply and potentially have devastating effects,” says Jason Briner, a geologist at the University of Buffalo. As Briner explains, the large ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic are part of the earth’s energy balance. These massive white surfaces serve to reflect rays from the sun back into the environment keeping temperature mild. Now if more and more glaciers keep melting this energy from the sun will be absorbed into the oceans instead. As the oceans keep getting warmer global temperatures will rise, causing more glaciers to melt and hence a cycle that will amplify climate crisis.
Submerging countries & Islands
With a rapid rate of melting glacier, sea levels will only continue to rise posing a threat to some island nations. According to this article from CNN, island nations at the risk of disappearing include Tuvalu, Maldives and the Marshall Islands. The future could be bleak is an understatement compared to facts which state that by 2100 about a fifth of the world’s population (2 billion people) could be displaced due to the rising ocean masses.
Research states that displaced people would be forced to move inland, but unfortunately, some of them wouldn’t have anywhere to go as they’re not protected by international laws and neither are industrialised countries obligated to grant them asylum. Bangladesh is an example where about 15 million people are at the risk of becoming climate refugees. If sea levels happen to rise by 1 metre, more than 10% of the country will be underwater. The impediment to inland settlement under conditions of accelerated sea-level rise is a huge problem, one likely to contribute to urban sprawl, desertification, exhausting natural resources and land concentration.
With that in mind, it is high time we adopt tangible solutions and proactive adaptations, like low carbon societies. This would be an economic innovation to curb greenhouse gases, which further contribute to global warming. Here are 6 ways to adapt to climate change.
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