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Paying the price for lack of climate knowledge application

Opinion & Analysis
WITH the effects of global warming continuing to have negative impacts on the people’s livelihoods, one would think that these effects would concentrate where they were emitted most.

WITH the effects of global warming continuing to have negative impacts on the people’s livelihoods, one would think that these effects would concentrate where they were emitted most.

Such misplaced assumptions and wishful thinking are not binding as many innocent people are caught in the cross-fire. That’s how dangerous carbon sinning becomes as the carbon footprints know no bounds. People should, therefore, invest in sufficient preparedness in order to realise resilience.

As the planet continues to warm, humanity needs to be conscious of the developments or deterioration of their immediate environments. People need to continue investing in climate change awareness and take stock of nature. They need to observe and interpret changes in their communities and link them to the livelihood problems which they experience.

Knowledge and understanding of issues of global warming are vital so that people are guided and influenced by the changing climate to take the necessary actions. Although people have some understanding of climate change issues, they lack the application part.

Besides the shrinking forests, depletion of wetlands, shifting of rainfall patterns and seasons, as well as the prevailing food insecurities, people should try to take stock of disappearing plant and animal species. This would act as a wake-up call for everyone to realise how the climate change-induced impacts have taken a toll on biodiversity, flora and fauna.

As people are preoccupied with climate change-induced droughts and famine, they should not ignore the telltale signs and markers in the environment. People’s attention and concentration have been diverted by the failing crops while turning a blind eye on other aspects like animal casualties and disappearing pastures for future grazing of their livestock.

There is also need to stay prepared and sufficiently adapt to prolonged dry spells, rising temperatures and heatwaves, contributing to more climatic uncertainties which people never want to visualise.

These uncertainties will obviously affect human livelihoods and coping strategies in many parts of the world. Developed countries, which already have strong adaptive capacities, will certainly increase their resilience, while many poor and developing countries will experience more climate shocks.

The problem with developing countries is their perceived weak coping, adaptive and responsive capacities stemming from lack of sufficient preparedness, obscure and corrupt activities, including abuse of donor funds meant for adaptation programmes.

For these reasons, many developing countries remain where they have always been — stagnant and underdeveloped. In this regard, most of them are just falling short of declaring corruption as a humanitarian disaster as it has affected all developmental programmes.

When people talk about climate change impacts around the world, they also forget about how they are adversely multiplying against the background of the earth failing to expand. Population density is a major point of concern but people don’t want to link it to climate change.

Everyone wants to talk about human activities as contributing to global warming, but don’t seem prepared to talk about how they are increasing in numbers, thereby exerting more pressure on the land. As living spaces and agricultural land is getting fewer, the planet will soon fail to cope and more natural disasters are in the making. As pressure continues to increase on the land, plant and animal species would be squeezed out or get extinct.

Furthermore, if countries fail to adapt sufficiently well, then climate surprises are in the offing and there are reasons to be worried about the potential impacts of carbon emissions. The problem is that leaders don’t want to invest for future generations because they are worried about their self-interests.

Even the conference of parties that are held every year are not focused much on the environment, but protecting self and national interests of rich countries. It is the politics of climate change which is taking centrestage rather than purely environmental matters.

If people are to closely monitor their environment and take stock without being influenced by ideologies and standpoints but by their worldview, then they will be able to correctly interpret and realise that there are some missing links and nature-species gaps. This is in reference to the previous rainy seasons, a long time ago, which used to be a hive of activity, for plants and creature species.

Talk of assortments of butterflies, frogs, tiny creeping colourful creatures complemented by the blooming natural flowering plants and all kinds of animals majestically gracing the landscapes. All things great and small, all things wise and wonderful, which the Lord gave us are no longer available. Most of these creatures and features are now history and it only requires the expertise of sophisticated storytellers to try and relive the past experiences.

These are signs and an epitaph of a weary and tired environment, hence the environmentally-conscious people should be really worried. People should be able to use this knowledge to transform their thinking and adapt.

Recently, climate shifts have seen the emergence of swarms of locusts in east Africa, destroying crops at lightning speed. Who knows, next could be southern Africa with surprise packages of house-flies, frogs or snakes.

That is why it is important for human beings to stay prepared.

As climate change has been the most visible of all phenomena, it is being implicated in several cases of depletion and extinction. While human beings can adjust and adapt, the same cannot be said for some plant and animal species.

Only the few resilient plant and animal species have passed the test of time and have been able to adapt to the changing climate. This is because the usual habitats for animal and plant species have grown too warm for their comfort, hence life has become unbearable and there is nowhere to go.

Forests are not spared either. Although they take longer to establish themselves, they are in danger because of human activities and growing population densities, which have a bearing on the changing climate.

In addition, raging forest fires are consuming more forests and emitting lots of carbon dioxide, which has an impact on the composition of the atmosphere.

With massive land degradation taking place through deforestation, agricultural and unsustainable mining activities, bacteria and other micro-organisms become exposed and release more greenhouse gases.

All these are ingredients of a changing climate coupled with unsustainable human behaviour which the people should have sufficient knowledge and understanding of.

This is significant in the sense that they will be able to study their environment, link the changes taking place to their problems and situations in order to take stock and adapt.

 Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on: [email protected]