The Weather Gods in Africa

Feature story - 30 November, 2011
There were some startling statistics released yesterday at the UN climate talks about the weather in 2011. The World Meteorological Organization released their statement on the "Status of Global Climate" stating temperatures are the tenth highest in the list of years with the infamous La Niña storms, which are known to cool temperatures. But that's not all, the last fifteen years have held 13 of the warmest on record and the volume of sea ice in the Arctic was at an all time low.

Some of the Africans whose plight is highlighted in The Weather Gods.

Africa is on the frontlines of climate change and the effects of climate change can be felt across the continent. "The Weather Gods", a new hard hitting documentary tells the story of the people in the front line of climate change; rural communities in Mali and Kenya and South Africa.

Dependent upon rain fed farming, the continent is facing a future of rampant food insecurity in an ever hotter and drier continent.

Crops are being sown and grown close to the absolute limit of the temperatures they can endure, while up to a quarter of Africa’s water resources have been either lost or are no longer readily available to the people who need them most.

The documentary is a joint venture between Greenpeace Africa and UHURU Productions, directed by one of South Africa's leading film makers, Rehad Desai.

Each case study is exemplified by individuals who explain in their own words the changes they are facing.

In Mali, studies suggest that mean annual temperature will increase by 1.2°C-3.6°C by the 2060s and up to 5.9°C by the last decade of the 21st century. Hot days - and nights - will become more frequent, as the the country becomes drier, especially in the north.

The situation in Kenya follows the same tragic trajectory, with temperature spikes of 1.0°C-2.8°C by the 2060s and 1.3°C-4.5°C by the 2090s. Here, rain could increase by almost half, which is good news for farmers, but bad news for health bringing with it the risk of waterborne disease.

On the southern tip of the continent, South Africa will not escape unscathed by climate change either. Temperatures are projected to rise by between 1.1°C and 2.4°C over the next 50 years and by 1.6°C-4.3°C by the end of the 21st century. Days will become hotter, with less cold days per year than ever before.

"Africa is already bearing the brunt of the impacts of extreme weather patterns, but that does not seem to be enough to spur some countries to action, like the US. The COP 17 talks in Durban need to be a new dawn for global climate change negotiations – one in which the interests of people everywhere are put before those of the polluters," says  Ferrial Adam, Climate Campaigner Greenpeace Africa.

As Greenpeace launches this documentary it urges the world’s governments represented at COP17 in Durban to listen to people and not the polluters, to shelve the rhetoric and create a framework for a sustainable future for future generations by:

  • Ensuring a peak in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2015
  • Ensuring that the Kyoto Protocol continues and providing a mandate for a comprehensive legally binding instrument
  • Delivering the necessary finance to tackle climate change
  • Setting up a framework for protecting forests in developing countries
  • Ensuring global cooperation on technology and energy finance
  • Ensuring international transparency in assessing and monitoring country commitments and actions

For more information on the facts behind The Weather Gods, download the Facing The Weather Gods Scientific Report.