‘You will rarely find a climate denier in East Africa’ | climate crisis

R.I recently interviewed a 70-year-old coconut farmer who told me about the hundreds of trees he was losing to the drought in his hometown of Rabai in the south of the country. Kenya. Fighting back tears, he told me how weather patterns he could no longer control or predict had left him without a way to support his family. He and the other farmers here may not know the science behind climate change, but it is part of the lived reality of it.

I now live in my home country of Kenya but have spent several years in the US where I have also experienced the effects of climate change. In 2015, when I graduated from a graduate program, Boston was experiencing one of its more intense snow storms on file. Some 108 inches (9 feet) of snow blocked roads and sidewalks, causing the city to to impose prohibitions on circulation and closure of public transport. At the university, classes were canceled due to extreme weather.

My second graduation in 2019 coincided with that of the world second hottest year on record. In New York City, summer temperatures soared to highs of 35C (95F), making the scorching heat a talking point: “hot girl summer” became a catchphrase, and my non-American friends and I laughed at the country. affinity for air conditioning..

People enjoy refreshing fountain water at the Unisphere Fountain in Flushing Meadow Corona Park in the borough of Queens on July 21, 2019 in New York City.
People enjoy refreshing water in a fountain at Flushing Meadow Corona Park in the borough of Queens, New York, in 2019. Photographer: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

It is strange, and often unsettling, to look at the different ways in which climate change has played out in these two countries. It is still acceptable in the US to question anthropogenic climate change, with some deny that the weather is changing, or discard the scientifically proven consequences of it. But you’ll rarely find a weather denier in East Africa. Most people have witnessed or been affected by extreme weather events.

In the West Africa Also, a friend of mine scoffed at the idea of ​​someone denying climate change while living on the mainland: “What would someone in Nigeria gain if they denied climate change?” he asked him. The country has been hit by its worst flooding in more than a decade, which has killed more than 600 people and displaced at least 1.4 million. But why hasn’t it received more international interest? The prevailing sentiment, he said, is that Africa is “no stranger to tragedy,” and in some ways this latest incident was no different.

Every week, I see at least one story about how the drought in northern Kenya is pushing millions of people towards starvation, and it’s a devastating story to cover. The situation there mirrors what is happening in much of the Horn of Africa, which is facing its worst drought in decades. Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have faced deadly flooding this year, displacing thousands. The situation is much worse in southern Sudan, where record rains last month flooded two thirds of the country.

The United States has faced wildfires, hurricanes, and cyclones. But it is very obvious that the capacities of the governments of the global north to respond to these emergencies they are far greater than those in the global south can muster. The US government can send huge relief and relief efforts in weather emergencies like Hurricane Ian, with thousands of first responders and tens of millions of dollars in support for affected families. It is absolutely correct, but it is impossible for most governments in developing countries.

Weather disasters like drought get a fair amount of government attention and resources to put out fires, as well as needed water and emergency food supplies. But the future depends on a sustainable climate response.

We are all affected by climate change, but some countries are affected in more direct and destructive ways. I have even come across lists of the “best places to live to avoid climate change”. But for populations in many parts of the world, there is no escape and no sign of rescue.

Superiority over who faces the worst impacts often reflects the “Black Lives Matter/All Lives Matter” debate and diverts discussions from context, nuance, or weighted solutions. However, it is still the crux of climate summits every year. Technical proposals involving “carbon taxes” and “carbon budgets”, which hold historical and current emitters accountable, make important contributions to addressing impacts and adaptation options, and reducing future emissions.

The women and children of the Turkana pastoralist community are affected by the worsening drought due to lack of rain.
Women and children of the Turkana pastoralist community in Kenya are affected by worsening drought due to lack of rain. Photo: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

Industrialized nations have broken their promise to channel $100 billion a year to developing nations: a sum that is only a fraction of what is needed to combat the climate crisis. Climate finance for African governments is mainly in the form of we lend – approved in boardrooms, by leaders who are somewhat isolated or removed from the situation – which leads several countries in the region to borrow even more to face the crisis.

Calls for Africa to avoid coal and fossil fuels are seen as hypocritical and have provoked fierce pushback from leaders across the continent. Africa emits less than 4% of global carbon emissions opposes the idea that they should curb the use of fossil fuels at the expense of development, while their global counterparts benefit enormously from their use and millions of Africans still have no access to electricity.

Despite the fact that the continent continues to be disproportionately affected, African climate change activists are often excluded either tokenized in world summits or conferences: reflecting the struggles of the continent and power imbalances in international debates on global warming.

As the effects of climate change continue to worsen, many hope that Cop27 will break with previous summits and that equitable solutions will emerge that recognize the gravity of the crisis, especially in the parts of the world that are experiencing it the most.

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