Cli­mate Change is a Global Cri­sis

Diplomat East Africa - - Diplomatic Licence -

South Africa Nobel lau­re­ate Des­mond Tutu hit the nail on the head when he said that tac­tics used against firms which did business with South Africa in the 1980s, must now be ap­plied to fos­sil fu­els to pre­vent hu­man suf­fer­ing. That his as­ser­tion came on the eve of the UN Cli­mate Sum­mit, made it par­tic­u­larly poignant.

The 2014 Cli­mate Sum­mit that was held in New York as part of the 69th ses­sion of the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly did well to high­light the cri­sis, but more needs to be done.

The earth has never faced a big­ger threat and any calls to act col­lec­tively to save it must be taken se­ri­ously. Mother Na­ture has never had it easy; we have sub­jected her to wars, epi­demics and famine and, it has sur­vived. Its re­silience is beyond belief.

But that too has its lim­its and the dev­as­ta­tion caused by Cli­mate Change might be the game changer and, not for the bet­ter. The earth’s re­silience has its lim­its. It has sur­vived the hu­man race long enough and, as the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity now tells us, we are head­ing for the dis­as­ter zone.

The en­vi­ron­ment is filled with car­bon diox­ide and the dam­age by global warm­ing is be­com­ing too scary to con­tem­plate. Ex­perts at the Nairobi-based United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme (UNEP) say we have reached the limit of global warm­ing. The cul­prits are not a se­cret; coal, gas and oil. The world has be­come to­tally de­pen­dent on th­ese re­sources and ig­nored the warn­ing signs of the pend­ing dis­as­ter.

It is now time to step on the brakes and use al­ter­na­tives to fos­sils. It no longer vi­able to say that the in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion pro­pelled Europe to its pros­per­ity and, that China and In­dia are jus­ti­fied in us­ing coal to cre­ate wealth.

It is no longer a tech­ni­cal and sci­en­tific de­tail that we must cut our car­bon foot­print sharply and im­me­di­ately. The lev­els of global emis­sions are no longer sus­tain­able and its ev­i­dence is too ob­vi­ous to ig­nore. We are wit­ness­ing deadly storms, heat waves, droughts and sky rock­et­ing food prices. The most vul­ner­a­ble and who, iron­i­cally, have noth­ing to do with the cre­ation of the prob­lems in the first place are the most af­fected.

Even more iron­i­cal is that the de­vel­oped states, which should know bet­ter, are the ones re­sist­ing any at­tempts to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion. They are putting self­ish short term eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests ahead of the sur­vival of the hu­man race.

Diplo­mat East Africa aligns it­self with Tutu’s views. The hu­man race can no longer tin­ker with th­ese is­sues. We can no longer con­tinue us­ing fos­sil fu­els as if there is no to­mor­row; be­cause there will be no to­mor­row un­less wiser coun­sel pre­vails.

Tu­tus’s stand is bril­liant; we can and should boy­cott events, sports teams and me­dia pro­gram­ming spon­sored by fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies. Just like cig­a­rette and beers mak­ers have bowed to pres­sure and place health warn­ings on their prod­ucts, shouldn’t oil com­pa­nies do the same? Now that Kenya, Uganda and prob­a­bly Rwanda, have dis­cov­ered oil, the prob­lem has been brought right to our doorsteps. The ram­part de­for­esta­tion in East Africa has seen wa­ter tow­ers dry up. Air pol­lu­tion due to the huge num­ber of cars on our roads has led to se­vere air pol­lu­tion. We shud­der when we imag­ine what the new oil dis­cov­ery will do to our en­vi­ron­ment and life styles.

Black South Africa weak­ened apartheid in the 1980s after it cam­paigned for the boy­cott of busi­nesses with links to apartheid. And Tutu put it suc­cinctly - no­body should profit from the ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and hu­man suf­fer­ing caused by the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els.

We couldn’t agree more

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