By Mary Appophia
‘Is there? Still hope?’ For the planet?
My understanding of hope being Google’s definition, which is the desire or wish or the expectation that a particular desired outcome will come to fruition.
Is there? Then? Hope? That the significant global climate change action that the world and planet so desperately needs will take place?
Well, it is broadly twofold.
1.Climate Change Mitigation
Climate Change Mitigation refers to actions that guard against further greenhouse gas emissions. Such actions include massive scaling down on the use of fossil fuels, increased efficiency in the use of energy, massive scaling down on deforestation, increasing percentages of forest cover, increasing carbon sinks (these include forests especially mangrove forests as well as ensuring that land is hardly ever bare, check out Gabe Brown’s Dirt to Soil Book which promotes no tillage) among other climate change mitigation global initiatives such as sustainable land uses and sustainable transport systems.
In climate change mitigation, the hope is that global temperatures can be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels and if push comes to shove, then below 2 degrees Celsius. This will only be possible if global greenhouse gases’ emissions drop significantly.
2.Climate Change Adaptation
Climate Change Adaptation are actions that help to cope with anticipated climate change effects.
These include building climate change resilient infrastructure (for instance bridges and homes that can withstand floods), climate change adaptive agricultural practices, early disaster preparedness (for instance it is a given that with climate change and its consequent global temperature rise, wild fires are going to increase, so governments should really have evacuation plans in place, emergency supplies should be availed to local governments in high risk areas, budgets should be set aside for fire fighting equipment and more personnel should be trained on disaster management, wildlife protection and evacuation measures should be in place etc.), improving access to weather related information (Heidi Cullen talks about this in her book, the Weather of the Future) and moving away from rain-fed agriculture among other climate change mitigation practices.
The aim of climate change adaptation is to increase the resilience and climate change coping capacities of vulnerable populations and communities. Vulnerable groups include small island developing states (which are prone to their countries sinking, literally, under water. Tuvalu and Maldives for instance are some of the places that could become uninhabitable by 2050), pregnant women ( High temperatures increase the chances of premature child birth. That’s crazy and life threatening and with premature child birth comes so many problems for the child as she/he/they grow up. ) These claims have been supported by this bmj journal research paper which sort to determine associations between high temperatures in pregnancy and risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirths using systematic review and meta-analysis research methods1).
Other groups that are vulnerable to climate change are workers especially those who work outside thus making them prone to extreme weather changes, immigrants and populations who have previously been predisposed to other challenges such as high poverty levels, droughts etc. among other groups.
In sum though all of us are at risk. Climate Change impacts as evinced so far have not been discriminatory. In her book the Weather of the Future, Heidi Cullen gives case studies which show that everybody, will be at risk of facing the harsh impacts of climate change in one way or another.
In the last couple years or so, there has been great efforts especially driven by individuals, non profit organizations, some for profit brands, communities and religious organizations.
Some of the aforementioned individuals who have been playing a key role in the fight against climate change include Greta Thunberg who has driven massive climate change activism across the globe, Kenyan very own the late Nobel Peace Award winning Wangari Maathai who during her time did so much work for the environment including founding the Green Belt Movement. Following in her footsteps is Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti who is doing incredible work driving youth and children climate change activism in Kenya. There is also Vanessa Nakate from Uganda, and so many other people who are doing so much to fight for climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation at either the local level, or the global level. And guess what, some governments are also starting to come aboard on the climate change conversation. That’s great news.
However, despite all the initiatives that are being spearheaded by the various entities and various individuals, global emissions are still at an all time high.
This in turn places the planet and its inhabitants in a vulnerable position.
More and more climate change action is thus needed
COVID lockdown year 2020 aside – when carbon dioxide emissions dropped by roughly 6 percent – the global overall global emissions have been on a steady rise largely driven by increasing energy / electricity needs. In fact, at the moment, fossil fuels remain the go to energy sources for many industries. And production of fossil fuels does not seem to be ceasing.
Why do Fossil Fuels get all the bad rep anyways?
Well, the dark coals, do have a lot to answer to the climate change jury when the time comes. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, it is estimated that 78% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions which were calculated between 1970 to 2011, were a direct result of burning of fossil fuels.2 That’s mad when you think about it. And second to this comes the cows, errr, comes agricultural practices, land use changes as well as deforestation.
More Climate Change Action Needed
So from above, it is clear that more climate change action is needed. The window for climate change action seems to be dwindling. And the urgency of the situation does not allow room for “waiting”.
Is there Hope?
The current loss of life, biodiversity and property, as well as the suffering of people and animals, from recently experienced heat waves, floods, droughts and melting glaciers all being directly linked to rising temperatures, do not scream hope at all. And as seen from above where despite climate change activism, the demand for energy keeps growing and the go to solution seems to be bad ol’ bad ol’ fossil fuels, it does seem like a case of moving forward and moving backwards at the same time.
Actions that will start inducing hope include;
- Global deliberate efforts to greatly subsidize clean energy sources.
The use of fossil fuels will only be defeated by an increased access to the alternatives. Without the alternatives, or when the alternatives are expensive, or when people are not aware of the existence of the alternatives, the use of fossil fuels will just continue.
It makes sense that demand for energy will keep growing. Population is growing rapidly, and with it comes demand for more energy, especially in this era where economic activities and our lifestyles are so energy reliant.
So to curb reliance on fossil fuels, more research, subsidies and investments into renewables are needed. As well as ensuring their accessibility.
- Massive reforestation programmes of huge hectares of forest lands.
If I am being really honest with myself, that one lemon tree that I planted six months ago, isn’t going to cut it as far as climate change is concerned. Forests have greater capacity to act as carbon sinks than the one, two, three trees that I and you occasionally plant back at home. Don’t get me wrong. My and your lemon tree still matter. Because in a world where green spaces are reducing, food security being threatened, biodiversity being under threat, local and individual tree planting actions especially agroforestry will continue playing such a vital role in protecting our planet.
But, more and more large scale tree planting efforts are required for climate change action.
Mangrove forests and rainforests such as the Amazon are for instance globally threatened by human activities. If we want to talk about hope, we really need to mobilize for their protection.
Industries, governments, banks and businesses can for instance play such an important role in protecting these very vital ecosystems. Its time then that in addition to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) we introduced (FSW) Forest Service Week, cue, just a week of tree planting.
Other actions to induce hope include:
- Removal of Bureaucratic red tape and Addressing of Corruption that hinders investments in clean energy (Hello governments with insane number of bureaucracy hurdles for green investors to jump over… Corruption too needs to be addressed.
- Wind farms should stop lying idle. They are just costing the public billions in tax money.3 And in return, people are starting to hate on these renewable energy solutions.
Among so many other climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation responses that have already been documented and suggested by scientists and climate change activists.
For more climate change action and hope to start emerging, as many hands and minds on deck will be needed. From as many industries as possible. From as many sectors as possible. With climate change effects expected to cut across sectors, industries, countries, really all areas of our day to day lives, everyone is and will be affected in one way or another. The coping capacities will definitely differ, and that is where conversations of climate justice emerge. Major contributors versus those who are going to be majorly affected, but that is a conversation for another day.
For now, the world needs tangible hope that the climate change fight can be won. And the world can demand for this action. If not for anything, then how about not getting roasted by insane temperatures, Protection of clean water drinking sources (coz when islands and fresh water holding glaciers fall into the oceans every other second then things will just get salty, absolutely not suitable for drinking), Prevention of random and frequent flash floods.
Anyway, I do believe that you and I can play a vital role in climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. I don’t want to make this blog post longer than it already is, so how about I write an article about how you and I can contribute to climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation in a future post and share it here.
If your voice, however small is not included in climate change conversations, then I don’t think that we will realize significant reversal of the damages already done.
1. Chersich, M. F. (2020, November 4). Associations between high temperatures in pregnancy and risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirths: systematic review and meta-analysis. The BMJ. https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m3811
2. Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data. (2021, October 26). US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data#Reference%201
3. Mutai, E. (2021, August 11). Idle Turkana wind power costs taxpayers Sh18bn. Business Daily. https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/bd/economy/idle-turkana-wind-costs-taxpayers-sh18bn-3506966
The phrase There is still hope. should only be used when the speaker has done everything he knows to do to solve the problem. At the point when there us nothing left to be done, when all solutions have be tried can that expression can be appropriately be used. We have not tried everything we need to try or used all the solutions we have to use. It is time we start taking climate change seriously and supplying solutions, drastic solutions, that we know will help.
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Hi OG, thankyou so much for this feedback and informative blog on your end 🙂 As regards the feedback that you have shared, absolutely true. We still haven’t done so much more that can be done to address the issue of climate change. And true as well, solutions and urgent ones are required and then maybe much later when all these have been supplied we can start talking about hope.
Thousands of years ago, people went around claiming the end was near. A thousand years ago, people were chanting the end was near. A few decades ago, people stood on street corners talking about the end of the world. People today are talking about the end of the world. In a thousand years, people will be complaining about the end of the world. In ten thousand years, people will be talking about the end of the world. In a hundred thousand years, if we have any democratic republic’s left, people will be drinking iced tea by their swimming pools, talking about the end of the world.
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Hi Dolphin, thanks for this response. You bring up an interesting perspective. From a climate change perspective, do you think that it is possible that climate change will cause certain places to become uninhabitable and consequently make it impossible for certain species including humans to survive in those environments and eventually cause the end of the world for certain species to happen?
And then that might have an impact on other species ability to survive as well. I am for instance thinking of corals in the oceans here. With increased temperatures we have corals being bleached. Then if we have high temperatures for extended periods as has been the case in the last decade, then corals get bleached faster and they die faster. And it’s not like they are growing back in six months. They take over 10,000 years to be formed. And we know that corals are responsible or hosts to like more than 1/4 of fish species. And also they have these vital responsibilities for marine life and having support to 500,000 million people directly and so many others indirectly.
In these cases then, wouldn’t this cause the end of the world to come prematurely for certain species which will inadvertently affect the capacity of other species to survive?
One the one comment, I agree. The end of the world happens for each of us, when we die. I actually think that was the real message, a couple thousand years ago, when some men explained the world was soon coming to an end. It was left to us to use our heads, as you have, regarding that one aspect, then we can ponder what happens after. As far as anything regarding the planet, I fully understand temperatures affecting in microcosms, changes in climate for a variety of reasons, we believe all of it out of our control, and our efforts to reduce pollution, in microcosms. But I think a lot of people like to think they know, about a topic so incredibly out of their realm, partly because it requires no real thinking, proving, or research: just emotions and “nice” “caring” statements. Look, I can say we have evidence of aliens attacking the Earth from outside the solar system, then say we should prepare, for don’t we care?
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All the best.
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Aha I see what you mean. Also probably far fetched and of course not calling for the name climate change to be rechanged, lol, but from this chat I am able to see how the term climate change might have led to creation of divisions and consequent friction between groups calling for action and those opposing it. With the term seeming more of a natural cause than one within human control.
Thankyou and chat/feedback much appreciated