Climate Change risks are bigger than expected

The Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is getting harder to reach. The world is now in ’emergency mode’. Strategies include larger emissions cuts and pressuring countries that emit the most emissions to pay for climate change-related damages.

Source: World Economic Forum

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James Sitati
June 6, 2022 11:17 am

The climate change debate is exasperating. Among a contingent of supposed do-gooders who “care” about the environment are people who blame developing countries for having too many babies. The problem is generally structured like this. Temperatures and sea levels are rising. We must control the global population to control our carbon emissions. Countries with fast-growing populations are irresponsible and putting the rest of the world in danger.

How about no? Let’s get it right. Consumption is the problem. I’m not saying population doesn’t matter. But consumption rates are what generate carbon emissions and waste. So let’s look at the stats, shall we? The average per capita consumption of resources like oil and wastes like greenhouse gases are 32 times higher in the First World than in the developing world (Source: New York Times). The point is, while people chastise poor countries for uncontrolled population growth, most resource consumption occurs in rich countries.

Isn’t is strange that we complain about other countries’ growing populations yet our population is huge and we consume and waste significantly more than them? The selfishness we accuse them of and condescension we treat them with doesn’t hold water when the facts are laid bare.

The USA has a population growth rate of 0.4%. Zambia has a population growth rate of 2.89%. Why can’t Zambia get its act together and control its population before we face global climate change catastrophe!? Conversations like these happen lamentably often. But wait a minute. Zambia has a population of 18 million. The USA has a population of 330 million. Taking into account the 32:1 rich-poor consumption/waste factor ratio, we arrive at the following conclusion: The USA consumes and wastes 586 times more resources in total compared to Zambia.

Perhaps a bit of introspection is in order before the developed world complains and lectures other countries on their contribution to climate change.

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Aaron Seleka
February 22, 2022 10:49 am

South Africa is coming to the party quite late on this. One generally accepted way to combat climate change is to move away from fossil fuels. I always feel that if you have access to a renewable energy sources like sun or wind, then it’s a no-brainer to harness them to help save the planet. South Africa has one of the highest percentage of sunny days per year in the world, and has access to strong prevailing winds in some parts of the country. Why not capture these?

So it’s fair to say that we are not big into renewables from my comments above. We have been slow on the uptake, and we still rely on coal-fired power stations for the bulk of our energy needs. Without going into the complex economic arguments for why renewables are not always easy to get off the ground, my impression is that we are not doing enough by a long way.

With issues like climate change, where the crisis is not staring you in the face (some will say it is), it’s easier for a developing nation to focus on schools and hospitals rather than renewables which can sometimes be painted as a luxury item. It’s complex, like many problems we face in the world, and I just wish we can act before it’s too late.

Josh Wright
February 24, 2022 5:37 pm

This is getting worrying. Due to greater awareness and education over the past few years, I believe people are taking more measures individually to combat climate change. Also while the government has implemented various measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it always feels like we’re teetering on the edge of total self-destruction. Protests by Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain have taken place across the UK, blocking roads and generating massive press. A problem is their form of activism is self-defeating in that their methods of protest turn people off. When an Extinction Rebellion activist stood on a train and delayed everyone’s journey to work, I knew people who supported him getting dragged off the train and getting a beat down by angry commuters. Also Insulate Britain blocked traffic to make their voices heard. There is simply no justification for blocking ambulances. They hurt their own cause by doing something like that.

The inaction on climate change has gotten so bad that young kids have skipped school to attend Climate Strike protests. They say it’s their futures that are being put at risk by governments not doing enough to combat climate change. I see their point when there’s a large climate change denier community. In 2019 a letter entitled “There is no climate emergency” had signatories from over 400 people including UK politicians, academics and lobbyists. Their argument was that the changes in climate are a natural part of the cyclical nature of the system.

Overall, however, I believe there is general consensus that anthropogenic climate change is real and is a threat. I’d say the 2 most visible climate-related events in the UK are heatwaves and flooding. The UK has had several heatwaves over the past few years and these are expected to become more common. There are knock-on effects such as increased energy demand from running fans and air-conditioning, and health risks from critical infrastructure such as hospitals not being designed to withstand such temperatures. Flooding has also affected some of our cities, where people have had to be evacuated from their homes by boat. Coastal cities will continue to be at risk from flooding, and according to the Met Office (the UK’s National Meteorological Service), adaptation has to occur because, despite measures taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels are projected to keep rising beyond 2100.

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Stephanie Lo
February 21, 2022 7:27 pm

Global warming is an important issue that is extensively discussed and policies are implemented regularly to combat the issue, but it just feels like we’re not doing enough. We are taught early in school about climate change, global warming and the 3 R’s in sustainability: reduce, reuse, recycle. There is public awareness and active promotion of water conservation, use of public transportation, and sustainable business practices. The proposed national ban on single-use plastic materials is expected to take effect this year, and plastic bags are charged extra in nearly all retail shops nowadays. In recent years, food chains such as A&W, Booster Juice and Subway have introduced compostable straws to replace plastic straws.

In the light of global climate strikes and louder calls for action, I was reflecting on the natural disasters and adverse weather events that occurred in Canada due to global warming and the rise of sea levels. We’ve had numerous wildfires in our prairie provinces, dislocating many residents while there has been flooding on various islands. As well, the summers have reached record highs in temperature and we also lost more than 3 billion birds since 1970. Extreme weather like thunderstorms, blizzards and heat waves all have been more common, especially since Canada’s physical location is more prone to feel the effects of climate change.

March 4, 2022 10:50 am

Our problem with climate change in Nigeria is double-pronged. Low awareness and dependence on industries that cause pollution. Nigeria is ranked high among the most environmentally polluted countries. According to the State of Global Air 2020 report we are the 5th most polluted country in the world. The main source of revenue and the biggest business in the country is oil and gas. The country heavily depends on it for foreign exchange. It is therefore easy to see why the government has turned a blind eye on the case of climate change.

I wish individuals and welfare groups were any different. Everyone here is all about how they can tap into the oil and gas industry for their own benefits. However, there are environmental agencies that conduct regulatory checks to ensure less damage to the ecosystem but I feel more needs to be done. Nigeria is recognized as being vulnerable to climate change. Climate change if left unchecked will cause adverse effects on livelihoods in Nigeria, such as crop and livestock production, fisheries, forestry and post-harvest activities. People living in rural communities are the ones who suffer the most as they depend on the crops they grow and livestock they keep for their sustenance.

First things first, I think people are not aware enough. They have not been deeply sensitized on climate change. A Statista Research Department report “Knowledge of climate change topic in Nigeria 2020” found that more than 6 in 10 Nigerians had never heard about climate change. Starting here would be a step in the right direction.

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March 10, 2022 3:38 pm

Kenya is also vulnerable to climatic changes. Rainfall has become more intense and less predictable, becoming a big challenge to both food security, water availability and health. Over the past few years, temperatures are so high leading to more frequent droughts, impacting yields of staple crops and affecting tourism. 80% of our land area is arid and semi-arid lands, so climate change has the potential to affect us deeply. With that said, the Kenyan government is working hard in setting climatic change countermeasures such as the Kenya National Adaptation Plan, Kenya Climate Change Act, and calls for ‘green growth’ in our 2030 Vision to become a middle-income industrialized country by 2030. Private owned companies are as well obliged to help the government in creating a sustainable environment for future generations.