Extreme storms, hurricanes, and cyclones are occurring so frequently that they seem commonplace. Recently the Bahamas and parts of the USA were hit by Hurricane Dorian. Earlier in the year it was Cyclone Idai, followed by Kenneth, and then Fani in the Indian Ocean. Those cyclones battered Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Seychelles and parts of the coastal areas of eastern India. Scientists surmised that the cyclones that killed over a thousand in Mozambique and caused $2 billion worth of damage, made even more intense by the warming of the ocean.
In 2000, flooding in Mozambique caused extensive damage and pictures of desperate citizens stranded on rooftops, tree tops and broken bridges made the rounds in the global media. In 2012, flooding in Nigeria took the lives of 363 persons. Last year, over 100 persons died in floods in the country. All these come as go as news and the numbers of persons killed and properties damaged all go down as mere statistics.
As I write this, I am reading of another storm hitting the Bahamas and a headline that the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency predicts weather related destruction in parts of Nigeria by October as floods march down from the upper reaches of the Niger Basin comprising Guinea, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’ivoire, Benin, Chad, and Cameroon. The floods are coming and we have a month’s notice to relocate to higher grounds. Storms in Guinea and other upstream nations will pile up the flood that will quietly wiggle its way down the River Niger and take unsuspecting communities downstream by surprise. But, are they not forewarned?
…Precious little is being done or planned to be done. Countries are still struggling to make any serious commitments in the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions as required by the Paris Agreement. … Unfortunately, the climate negotiations have become an arena for nations to agree on what is convenient for them to do or not to do, completely ignoring the climate debt and the fact that rich, industrialized, polluting nations have already grabbed 80 percent of the carbon budget. We are seeing the burden of climate action being loaded on poor, vulnerable nations and territories that never contributed significantly to the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These poor countries are required to turn their forests and soils and seas into carbon sinks so that polluters can continue with pollution-as-usual in the name of business. This manner of inter-generational buck-passing is unacceptable and confirms why radical actions must be taken to force governments to take up their responsibilities.
In his The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Global Warming, Michael Tennesen states that if all the ice sheets on earth were to melt, we would have a sea level rise of approximately 60 metres, or 200 feet. If that were to happen, only a few would find higher ground to relocate to. In fact, in some low lying coastal areas, a sea level rise of just 1 meter or 3 feet would translate to the submergence of land to a distance of several kilometers into the hinterland. The polar ice caps and all the ice sheets may not yet be cracking and collapsing into the sea at this time, but we have the warning that the scene is set for that to happen. Will nations heed the warnings we have today and take needed actions? Is the world ready to leave fossil fuels in the ground and ensure a rapid transition to renewable energy sources?
We are happy that the 4 million people who marched in the Climate Strike caught the attention of the world. …But our marches must never offset or take the place of action.
[Nnimmo Bassey, writing in greengrants.org]