Humanity has only but a few years left to minimize the catastrophe of climate change that we created by keeping the temperatures below 1.5 °C failure to which the risks of drought, famine, hurricanes, floods among many more will claim millions of lives. Australia has been the recent victim of the climate change epidemic where bushfires took the lives of 480 million animals and destroyed a 6.3 million hectares piece of land according to the University of Sydney.

On January 2018, we had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit for a 67% chance to stay below 1.5 °C and if put into consideration that 42 gigatons are emitted annually, we are now at 360 gigatons left according to the IPCC report of 2019.

On January 2019, the average global temperature was 0.88°C which means that we are 0.62 °C away from the targeted 1.5 °C that should not be exceeded otherwise the planet will hit up to a point of no return. According to the Climate Change Service, 2019 was the second warmest year after 2016 and the last 5 years (2015-2019) were the warmest on record.

Ten hottest years on record globally

There are now more than 300,000 endangered species threatened to go into extinction according to the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species which makes up 27% of all the accessed species. It will take several million years of normal evolution to restore the species on earth to how they were before human beings began exploiting the planet and this rapid loss of species has now been coined by some scientists as the sixth mass extinction. Is this planet beyond saving?

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The mountain gorilla is one of the endangered species of planet earth with only about 1,000 left.

Is Africa facing the Climate Change Crisis?
The effects of climate change cripple underdeveloped parts of the world the most, with Africa taking the lead. Nonetheless, most of the leaders in this continent do not treat climate change as a catastrophe that requires immediate action from them. Ignorance is the major driver of this as the leaders elected care more about their own gain as opposed to doing the greater good. Africa’s contribution to greenhouse gas emission is only 4 % (UNFCCC 2018) yet it is one of the most vulnerable continents and least prepared as well. This has mostly affected its agricultural sector which supports more than half of all people living on the continent. More than 60% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa are smallholder farmers, and about 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP comes from agriculture (McKinsey 2008) yet climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies are not included in most state policies or given the required budget allocation.

My country, Kenya, was one of the latest African countries to experience first-hand effects of climate change in two-folds December 2019 when floods filled most places including roads and buildings. Over 100 people were left dead and 100.000 more displaced (Kenya Redcross Society 2019). People lost their houses, lands and even loved ones. The worst case of floods in Kenya was reported in 1997/98 during an El Nino episode. These floods led to severe loss of life (human and livestock) and property, soil erosion, destruction of infrastructure, disruption of the communication networks and large losses to the economy (Alfred 2010). This extent of floods has been experienced in Kenya for a long time that it poses as the aftermath of the climate change crisis.

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Comparison of the prevalence of natural disasters in Kenya

Also, there are now huge swarms of locusts that have invaded the country destroying farmers crops including, maize. cassava, beans and wheat just to mention a few. Crop yields have significantly dropped and it is feared that the country will soon succumb to food insecurity.

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A swarm of locusts in Kenya.

Deforestation as a deadly driver of climate change
Biomass is the most important source of energy in many Sub-Saharan African countries. The contribution of biomass to the national energy balance remains high and is still estimated today to be around 85% (FAO 2015). Biomass remains by far the largest source of energy used in the continent, especially for domestic cooking, and it is likely that this will continue for some time.

African forests, on the other hand, are the largest sources of arable land, fossil fuels and minerals with tropical forests ranging from areas with the least forest cover in Northern Africa to the Congo Basin in Central Africa, which houses the world’s second-largest continuous block of tropical forest. African forests host a wide spectrum of biodiversity, with many species endemic to the continent. However, Africa’s forests are diminishing fast causing adverse effects to the climate, biodiversity and the millions of people who depend on forest resources for their survival. These forests are being cleared three times the world average.

Over the past 10 years, there have been ongoing debates on the rates and drivers of deforestation in Sub Saharan Africa. The rates of deforestation appear to have continued at relatively high rates until 2005 when declines began (UNEP 2005). Between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, the primary drivers of deforestation shifted from new land settlement schemes sponsored by governments to highly capitalized planters, agri-businesses, logging firms and cattle ranchers (Rudel 2013).

According to Intact forests organization (2016), a total of 7,000 trees are cut down every year and the major categories contributing to forest loss is Timber (37%), agricultural (28%), wildfire (21%), construction of roads and power lines (12%) and expansion of transportation networks (2%) (Rainforest Action Program 2016). This has led to land degradation and climate change which have adverse effects on humans. Conservation of the forest resources is therefore mandatory to mitigate global climate change, protect carbon stocks and ensure environmental sustainability.

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Rainforest trees cut down for the construction of a wind farm company in Kenya.

As an individual who has been able to experience the effects of climate change, I believe that it should be treated with the seriousness it deserves. The G20 forum of 2019 had one of its agenda on climate change but not much came out from the discussions of members present due to conflicting views from the leaders. An example would be from Donald Trump who did not believe that climate change is an issue that requires much attention thus withdrew the U.S from the Paris Agreement.

World leaders make it look like they are doing much to fight the climate crisis by saying they feel our pain and they understand but the evidence on the ground tells the opposite. Famine has been affecting North Africa for over 5 years now making families reliant on relief food but their leaders are still in denial of what is causing this. The youth are far much more concerned seen by the numerous climate strikes happening around the world. Greta Thunberg is leading this by asking bold and fierce questions to world leaders. Despite criticisms from scientists and policymakers around the world, she still strives to make her voice heard so that no one says that they were not warned of the coming catastrophic effects of climate change that might leave humans without a planet. Coutries are striving to achieve greater economic advancements yet they are doing this at the expense of the environment. It gets even worse to know that it is only a small group of the global population that is responsible for this.

We need better leaders who care an awful lot about the environment if any change is to be felt. I will conclude by saying that the climate change crisis is the most urgent and critical issue to be addressed by all global governance forums. Planet earth is the only home known to mankind and ignoring that we need to save it for the sake of our future generations is the most selfish act of all. We act as if there is another pace that is waiting for us as a safe haven when earth can n longer accommodate our over exploitation but the sad reality is that if we reach to such a point, the human race is the next species to go onto extinction. The late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai once said, “We all share one planet and are one humanity, there is no escaping this reality.” There is no Plan(et) B.