Global Warming in Africa
 The Health and Human Rights Approach to Climate Change

Global warming is referred to as the gradual rise in the mean temperature levels of the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere. It is believed to change the climate of different parts of the Earth permanently. Climate change resulting from global warming remains to be the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. It has been the reason behind the rising seas due to the melting of the polar ice caps, raging storms and ferocious fires. In Africa, some of the severe weather events have included punishing floods, searing heat and severe drought. Such have had a great effect on some of the African economies as compared to the more advanced and developed nations that can effectively mitigate against such. Environmental scientists agree that Africa is the lightest polluter of the atmosphere and yet suffers the worst effects of climate change. It is such effects of global warming that makes it a threat to communities, economies, and the natural order of our planet as we have always known it. To some the effects of this phenomena are more rapid or substantial than to others but scientific consensus on global warming and the resultant climate change is that the average rise in the temperature of the Earth has been between 0.4 and 0.8 °C over the past 100 years. The average temperatures in the world are predicted to increase by 1.4 and 5.8 °C by the year 2100. This was made known by Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate after carrying out some extensive research on global warming. Computer modeling has greatly helped in the research of future events associated with global warming. This outlines the importance of innovations and technology in the fight against global warming.

Persian Gulf Scenario

Recent research has indicated that by the end of this century, areas of the Persian Gulf is likely to be hit by waves of heat and humidity so severe that simply being outside for several hours will be a threat to human life. Because of humanity’s contribution to climate change, some population areas in the Middle East “are likely to experience temperature levels that are intolerable to humans.”

The dangerously muggy summer conditions predicted for places near the warm waters of the gulf could overwhelm the ability of the human body to reduce its temperature through sweating and ventilation. That threatens anyone without air-conditioning, including the poor, but also those who work outdoors in professions like agriculture and construction. The paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, was written by Jeremy S. Pal of the department of civil engineering and environmental science at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Elfatih A. B. Eltahir of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Previous studies had suggested that such conditions might be reached within 200 years. But the new research, which depends on climate models that focus on regional topography and conditions, foresees a shorter timeline.

The increased release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide by burning of fossil fuels, agriculture, land clearing and other human activities are the main reasons behind the global warming. Around the world, nations have started making commitments to combat this growing threat. This has been by working toward an international agreement whereby each country on the continent plays its part. Most of the world’s largest polluters such as China and the United States, have stepped up significant commitments, amplified by the efforts of businesses, cities, churches, sports leagues and many other groups that have positively responded to the urgent need for climate action. With such efforts to cap carbon pollution while embracing energy efficiency and expanding renewable power, we’ll have a fighting chance at getting off this destructive path.

East Africa Scenario

According to latest trends, geographer Chris Funk asserts that East Africa has been particularly hard hit with back-to-back droughts in year 2015 and 2014. Together with his team at the UC Santa Barbara /U.S. Geological Survey’s Climate Hazards Group (CHG), they predicted the area’s 2014 event based the increasing differential between extremely warm sea surface temperatures in the west and central Pacific Ocean.

Using similar data set, CHG confirms that not only is this temperature differential a leading indicator of drought in southern Ethiopia, Kenya and northeastern Tanzania but also that the extremely warm west Pacific temperatures, which contributed to the 2014 drought and recent rainfall declines in the region, would not be possible without climate change caused by human activity. These findings appear in a special issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which examines annual extreme weather events to evaluate evidence of climate change. They further point out that a there is a “very disturbing decrease in spring rainfall in East Africa. Over the past 15 years, the region has been struck by eight droughts — events that have been associated with the 2011 Somali famine and increases in the frequency of extremely low-birth-weight children. In fact, CHG investigators and colleagues at the University of Utah documented this low-birth-weight relationship in a paper published in September in the Journal Global Environmental Change”.

Further scientist from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory through research have indicated that the Horn of Africa is likely to get drier as a result of global warming, not wetter and greener as previous research had predicted. They further say the drier conditions expected will likely result in increased civil strife & tensions in what is already one of the most unstable regions in the world.

The team of researchers was able to analyze a sediment core taken from the pirate infested waters of the Gulf of Aden. With this sample they were able to establish changes to temperature and aridity in the region over the last 2,000 years. They then compared this record with 20th century observations to show the Horn of Africa has become progressively drier over the last 100 years and that this drying will continue as the world gets warmer.

Assumptions by various Aid groups that the Horn of Africa will be wetter and have a greener future for has been disputed with findings showing that the exact opposite is occurring. The region is drying and will continue to do so with rising carbon emissions.

This drying in the Horn of Africa has a serious impact on growing season days and agriculture, resulting in a threat to food security. This is a major concern in terms of predicted global warming, the authors say. These deadly droughts occurring regularly over the last 30 years have brought with them famine and violence. In Somalia, these droughts in the 1980s and 90s displaced hundreds of thousands.

Sub-Sahara Africa Scenario

It’s estimated recently by the Red Cross that tens of millions of people across sub-Saharan Africa are facing hunger due to unpredictable weather with the situation set to worsen with the recent El Nino rains reaching peak. This was during a funding drive launch appeal planned for six countries. Serious flooding in Equatorial Africa and drought in southern Africa and the Sahel is expected. This has prompted several aid agencies, including Oxfam and Care International, to warn of its impact and to have mitigating plans.

A recent World Bank Report details the scenario for Sub-Saharan Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the researchers found food security will be the overarching challenge, with dangers from droughts, flooding, and shifts in rainfall. It’s expected that between 1.5°C-2°C warming, drought and aridity, will contribute to farmers losing 40-80 percent of cropland conducive to growing maize, millet, and sorghum by the 2030s-2040s. In a 4°C warmer world, around the 2080s, annual precipitation may decrease by up to 30 percent in southern Africa, while East Africa might see more rainfall, according to multiple studies. This has however been disputed by a recent study as shown above. Ecosystem changes to pastoral lands, such as a shift from grass to woodland savannas as levels of carbon dioxide increase, could reduce food for grazing cattle.