I’m sitting in my office in full winter wear – heavy jacket, gloves, the works. But suddenly it gets too warm and I have to take all of these off. It leaves me baffled, are we in winter, summer, spring or what? In confusion and frustration, I can’t help but think about the reasons causing these ever-changing weather patterns.
In the past, we used to hear about global warming and climate change. For most of us these have been terms that are far-fetched and something we think is happening in other areas away from our homes.
The costs of global warming are tremendous, estimates vary but most figures put out are in the trillions. Recently, hundreds of thousands of people have been suffering from hunger caused by droughts, water shortages and coastal flooding in Africa. This is a result of the world warming.
Africa has experienced general increases in warm spells since the industrial era. Variable rainfall has also become more significant over the last century. In West Africa, average annual rainfall has declined steadily since the end of the 1960s. Other regions, particularly southern and eastern Africa, have seen more intense and widespread droughts and a significant increase in heavy rainfall. These are but some of the impacts of climate change and their effects can be seen in access to water, food production, and human health.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Over 60% of Africans depend directly on agriculture for their livelihoods. With climate change impacting weather patterns (like rainfall), the agricultural sector is likely to be the hardest hit. Increasingly warmer temperatures lead to lower crop yields. Approximately R45 billion of income a year is being lost as a result of low or failing crop yields.
Time to talk is long over; we need to act now.
We always underestimate the risks. Climate change is happening, and it’s happening fast. It is the greatest economic challenge of the 21st century. But what can you and I do to fight this multi-billion dollar agriculture disaster waiting to happen right in front of our eyes?
We urgently need to reduce our use of fossil fuels—especially carbon-intensive coal, and start using renewables energy sources. Burning coal leads to wasting of our precious water, air pollution and has terrible effects on human health. Renewables on the other hand, have the potential to meet the vast majority of our energy needs, are increasingly cost-effective, and create jobs while reducing pollution.
Africa must become innovative in a wide range of areas to adapt to the consequences of climate change. Understanding the link between livelihoods and learning how to manage the natural ecosystems is critical to achieving sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.
It’s the individual things we do; it’s the small things we do. Let’s create a movement of change, let’s take responsibility for the impact we make, and commit to leave our environment in healthy condition for the generations to come.
Together we can, doing our bit for Africa!