Thanks to Paul Schaafsma and his extensive on-line research. These are stories we should all absorb. Of course Africa has almost no responsibility for Climate Change so the suffering is entirely undeserved.
There is more information in this radio interview with Paul on May 7.
The rest of this page is essentially a blog by Paul. NEW Angelina Jolie’s interview with Vanessa Nakate! Kaossara Sani’s message to climate activists in the wealthy countries! Scroll down and hear what these extraordinary advocates for #GlobalClimateJustice have to say!
Climate Shock: The Human Toll of the Climate Crisis
In Southern Africa, 5 years of severe drought have led to water supplies disappearing, massive levels of crop failure and 45 million human beings going hungry. Landslides and floods in East Africa impacted 3 million lives in just the last 3 months of 2019. The floods in turn helped spawn a plague of locusts, that are devouring the crops that survived previous shocks, threatening the food supply of tens of millions. Back to back cyclones ravaged Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi last Spring, leaving 2.5 million in dire need of humanitarian relief in Mozambique alone. Never in recorded history have cyclones struck there twice in one season.
The numbers are staggering, and yet they barely hint at the reality. We think of extreme weather disasters striking infrequently, followed by disaster relief, rebuilding, life returning to something like ‘normal.’
In Africa, the situation is very different.
“The climate crisis here is a permanent one, ripping away the coping mechanisms that people here have relied upon for generations to help see their communities and families through the lean times. This crisis is not an occasional headline – for the people of Southern Africa, it’s now a profound way of life.”Care International, February 2020
Most of Africa’s population gets its living from the land, in farming that is rainfall dependent. It is common now across Africa for record heat and drought to be followed by rainfall that comes all at once, bringing flash floods and landslides. There is no time to recover from one “climate shock” before another begins. Life is not just becoming harder, it’s becoming impossible.
The 54 countries of Africa together are responsible for just 5% of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. By contrast, the United States by itself emits 13% (using EPA figures that omit the huge spike in global methane emissions from our fracking boom). America accounts for the largest share of the CO2 now in Earth’s atmosphere. Yet it is Africa where climate catastrophe is not a future threat but a daily fact of life.
Humanity’s Birthplace Is Also Humanity’s Future
Like the Arctic, Africa is warming at a much faster pace than the Earth as a whole. A recent BBC report notes Southern Africa is “two degrees warmer already.” Warming is accelerated across most of Africa; the result is the worst concentration of extreme weather disasters found anywhere on Earth. The BBC continues “So what you have here, essentially, is a glimpse into the future, and it’s not looking promising.”
Why Don’t Citizens of the Wealthy Countries Know?
This is doubly true of the news media in the US, where 6 corporations control 90% of what we see, hear and read.
Vanessa Nakate of Uganda is one of the greatest advocates for global climate justice alive today. She is also a great champion of the Congo rainforest, the 2nd largest on Earth, which is in grave danger, like the Amazon, from those who see it only as a source of raw materials. It was Vanessa who opened my eyes to the staggering human toll of the climate crisis in Africa. She is the founder of the Rise Up Movement, and helped inspire the explosion of youth climate activism across the African continent. Earlier this year, Vanessa Nakate joined Greta Thunberg and 3 other white climate activists for a press conference at Davos. The Associated Press spoke to Vanessa and the others, and took a group photo of the five activists. When the story was published, Vanessa had been cropped out of the photo, her comments excised from the article. It was “as if I wasn’t there,” she told the Guardian. (you can read about it here: ).
When the AP’s story came out, Vanessa tried to express just how being erased from the AP’s story made her feel:
When Vanessa called the AP on this outrage, it turned into a scandal and ended up giving her a great deal MORE visibility. The media wall of silence around Africa’s climate crucible continues, but Vanessa’s courage proved it is possible to break through it.
Kaossara Sani of Togo is another towering figure in the movement for #GlobalClimateJustice. Like Vanessa, Kaossara is helping inspire a new generation of climate activists across Africa, and it was Kaossara who saw the need for a documentary about climate change in Africa that she and I and activists in Chad, Uganda, Cameroon and the DRC are collaborating on. Kaossara told her Twitter followers, who include legions of European as well as African climate activists, “Life is more precious than money.” I defy anyone to improve on those six words for summing up what the climate crisis requires all of us to learn.
Kaossara’s intiatives include building handwashing stations and sharing public health information to help rural villages prevent Covid-19 infection and helping communities in Africa meet basic human needs using sustainable methods, on display here:
Kaossara also educates young people on the importance of sustainability:
July 15, 2020: Kaossara’s message to climate activists in the wealthy countries could not be more urgent:
Mulindwa Moses is another Ugandan activist I greatly admire. In a Guardian article this year, Mulindwa said:
“Being a climate activist in Uganda is very hard,” Mulindwa says. “You cannot hold a strike with large numbers to create awareness because the government [does not] allow it, and I have lost friends, who say they can no longer associate with me because I stand on the side of roads holding signs and spend most of my time planting trees.”