Africa and climate change: the imported disaster

Italian website has published an interesting interview to Robert Molteno of SOAS, School of Oriental and African Studies, about how climate change will affect mostly Africa and why it will be so.

Why global warming is among the most serious problems that Africa will face?

There are two reasons why climate change threatens the inhabitants of Africa. The first is that these people are by far the poorest in the world. This means that neither African governments nor citizens can afford to make those technically called adaptation measures. Actions are needed to protect people from the worst effects of climate change in the short to medium term – works as barriers to protect coastal cities, large-scale reforestation and other measures to contain the advance of deserts, and other similar initiatives.

The second reason why climate change is particularly dangerous for Africa is that it is possible to foresee that just the tropical and subtropical regions, which form much of the African continent will suffer the worst damage with increasing temperature .

Where, when and in what manner it is expected that global warming will affect Africa the most?

Is followed by a series of consequences. The most serious and immediate is the extension of the climates of the equatorial zones. This means that the deserts and semi-arid regions in the Sahel, Sahara and the Horn of Africa, as in Namibia and central Africa should expand and go to more unpredictable rainfall and generally less abundant. And yet this should intensify desertification and the reduction of agricultural land.

Even the rain forests of Africa should have a drier climate, an increased risk of fires in this as in other areas, and therefore has serious consequences for the populations of these areas.

A third major problem might affect the restricted coastal areas around the great African plateau. Here, with the rise in sea level, cities such as Lagos or Cape Town or Alexandria in Egypt, will be more vulnerable to storms and following the flooding.

As for the timing of these and other effects will be felt, the scientific literature is becoming more accurate, but uncertainties still remain in the case of weather on specific areas or on specific climatic environments. But what became clear is that in Africa today the weather is more unpredictable. And extreme weather events have increased, and decreased rainfall.

What measures would be needed in Africa to mitigate the consequences of climate change?

This is a very complex problem. The Africa has never previously been responsible for the release to the atmosphere of gases that have altered the climate, because industrial activities here have always been reduced in the same way today, Africans can not influence, let alone slow down the increase of the concentration of CO2 in the air.

It is clear that Africa is simply the victim of a global phenomenon which has no control. So to these people is only the difficult problem of what adaptation measures taken to try to reduce the damage that global warming Climatic instability overthrow him.

As I said, these measures are costly – and in any case of very limited effectiveness – in any event, African countries can not afford it economically.

In what way foreign interests have contributed to worsen the effects of global warming in Africa, and what should do the foreign countries to alleviate the consequences?

To go to the heart of the problem, the primary responsibility that the advanced industrial countries and emerging powers like China must take now is to fundamentally change their patterns of consumption, industrial production and energy, thus reducing significantly, over a generation that emit greenhouse gases.

The second thing that these countries should do is to finance adaptation measures that will be necessary in African countries and other areas in the developing world. What should be the organizational and economic mechanisms to do this is a completely different problem. The depressing story of the traditional mechanisms of aid from the northern to southern hemisphere suggests this will be very unlikely  the best way to transfer the necessary financial and technological resources.



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