Climate Change! Not a Myth Anymore
Climate Change happens when there are changes in the Earth’s climate system which result in new weather patterns that remain in place for an extended period. This length of time can be as short as a few decades to a period as long as millions of years.
Ever Heard of Climate Change?
Global warming is a phenomenon of climate change characterized by a general increase in average temperatures of the Earth, which modifies the weather balances and ecosystems for a long time. It is directly linked to the increase of greenhouse gases (Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide…) in our atmosphere. So much heat is being kept inside the greenhouse earth that the temperature of the earth is increasing faster than any previous time in history.
All systems in the global climate are connected. When the atmospheric heat rises more water evaporates in the clouds where storms like hurricanes and typhoons are forming. This creates more energy-intensive weather patterns that bring unpredictable rain and snow. The burning of fossil fuels to make gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and natural gas, as well as the petrochemicals (plastics, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers), accelerate the increase of the amount of carbon-containing gases in the upper atmosphere and tiny particles (black carbon) in the lower atmosphere. Scientists attribute the current warming effect to these two phenomenons as these particles absorb heat.
Human Activities and Climate Change
The atmosphere protects the earth from the sun’s energy. It regulates the earth’s temperature in reflecting electromagnetic radiation from the sun. Only half of the sun’s energy heading for earth gets to warm its lands and oceans. Rock, soil, and water heated by visible light re-emit the energy as low energy infrared radiation heat. This can pass through the oxygen and nitrogen in the air. But greenhouse gases have molecules with structures that absorb the radiation. This makes heat stays close to the earth’s surface for longer than it otherwise would, keeping it warmer.
The US Environmental Protection Agency suggests that some human activities increase greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Chemical intensive food production, uses of coal and petroleum, industry, buildings, and deforestation are large contributors to particulate emissions in the upper and lower atmosphere.
How has Climate Change Affected African Countries?
Africa is one of the continents that will face the full brunt of climate change, climate-related events have begun unfolding across the continent affecting many people and destroying environments.
One of the most disastrous cases must be the drastic change in climate conditions in Mozambique that manifested in two cyclones that hit the country and wreaked havoc.
In 2019 alone, Mozambique was affected by two powerful tropical cyclones, this has been the first recorded time in history. In March of 2019, tropical cyclone Idai hit the city of Beira in Mozambique and moved further inside the country. Despite the cyclone primarily hitting Mozambique, it affected people as far as Malawi and Zimbabwe. Environmentalists have recognized the phenomena as the biggest natural disaster to hit the Southern African region in the past 20 years.
A few weeks later more disaster befell Mozambique when cyclone Kenneth also made its way to the northern part of Mozambique affecting millions of people. The fact that both cyclones hit the country in the same season was the first time in recorded history and has sparked a lot of important conversations around climate change in the continent. Both cyclones ravaged the small country and rose the number of people in need of assistance to 1.4 Million. International humanitarian organizations that responded to the crises like UNICEF appealed for approximately $122 million to support affected people in the affected countries.
What is the impact of climate change on the continent?
According to the African Development Bank, South-Western Africa is expected to see a decrease in water availability of more than 10% as a result of climate change.
The African Development Bank projects health impacts of climate change to worsen in Central and Southern Africa.
Crop net revenues could fall by as much as 90% by 2100, with small scale farmers being the most affected. Climate variability and extreme weather events including floods, droughts, and cyclones would trigger infectious disease epidemics such as malaria, dengue fever, and diarrhea. 20% more people in Africa will be at risk of hunger by 2050 due to the changing climate.
A number of African countries have developed, or are in the process of developing dedicated climate change laws that take into account climate change considerations. However, tangible challenges are ahead to address the issue of climate change. By 2030, The cost of climate change is estimated to increase by $40 each year. With at least 625 million people who do not have access to modern energy services, there is high reliability on traditional biomass for cooking, heating, and lighting. In sub-Saharan Africa, 40% of the population still lacks access to safe drinking water and 68% do not have access to improved sanitation. These various factors represent the internal barriers that block climate change efforts. Moreover, there are weak national plans and investment policies to support relevant agencies in leveraging existing climate change resources. Governments often lack the capacity to meet international standards and the fragmentation of existing funding instruments further aggravates the situation.
Strategies to deal with Climate Change
Addressing the impact of climate change on the continent as well as maximizing opportunities presented is crucial to accelerate the development agendas for the continent. The development of governmental policies and programs that encourage eco-friendly infrastructure and renewable energy will create conditions to reduce gas emission. Innovative technologies, sustainable land use, adaptive water resources and management, and the promotion of sustainable transport are strong alternatives that provide complementarily support for transitioning towards a low carbon and climate-resilient economy. Mobilize the private sector to catalyze concessionary resources that will maximize sustainable market mechanisms development will significantly scale-up interventions for sustainable businesses. To reduce vulnerability to the consequences of climate change, adaptation measures ranging from research and development on possible catastrophes and temperature behavior, flexible and diverse cultivation, and carbon tax and emissions markets should be a baseline to address climate change impacts. In implementing these strategies we will support country policy and regulatory reforms and create a framework to address the broader issue of adaptation and mitigation to climate change.
- African Development Bank (2012), Solutions for a changing climate: The African Development Bank’s response to impacts in Africa. AfDB:
- Climate change consequences – Climate Action – European Commission. (2019). Retrieved 14 December 2019, from https://ec.europa.eu/clima/change/consequences_en
- Griffiths, J., & Rao, M. (2009). Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. BMJ: British Medical Journal,339(7732), 1211-1212. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/25673311
- IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 7-22. http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/spm.html
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2018), Climate Change Profile: Mozambique.
- What is climate change? – Met Office. (2019). Retrieved 14 December 2019, from https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/learn-about/climate-and-climate-change/climate-change/index