Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Is climate change to blame in Freetown?
Humanity may have worsened the conditions on the ground but is the weather worse anyway?
The deadly landslide in Freetown, Sierra Leone on Monday morning was undoubtedly partly the result of deforestation. During the rainy season, Sierra Leone is one of the wettest places on earth, statistically. And from that point of view, it is a surprise that such disasters don’t happen more often.
It looks as though the changing climate may make the future risk even greater as more frequent and more violent rainy season events such as this are a measurable consequence.
You may be surprised to hear that African thunderstorms are among the most intense on earth. That finding came from a scientific paper published in 2006, a study using a worldwide database. A more recent investigation has found that the number of these storms has increased in sub-Saharan Africa, by a factor of three, since 1982.
That latter conclusion came from another scientific paper, published this year, discovering evidence that looks like a clear link to a warming climate. It is a well-established expectation that temperatures will rise, as a global average, and that local variations will be vastly different.
This isn’t the first time Al Jazeera has flogged the climate horse.
Back in 2015, Al Jazeera made an outrageous claim that “climate deniers” cost 400,000 lives every year.
Climate change is also slowly becoming a favourite excuse for Middle Eastern administrations looking to deflect blame for their incompetence.
In June this year, several gulf states cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism. Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera, denied the claims.
I don’t know what Al Jazeera think they are doing, pushing blatant climate spin, implying the West are responsible for climate mass murder. Whatever contribution climate made to that tragic landslide in Sierra Leone, cutting down trees on an unstable hillside was a much larger contributing factor.
Words can have consequences.
Back in 2013, Al Gore sold his TV channel to Al Jazeera, vastly extending Al Jazeera’s reach with US audiences. No doubt if a group of Middle Eastern or even a group of domestic US terrorists decides to embrace climate as one of their excuses for Jihad, as Osama Bin Laden once did, Al Jazeera will be there to provide sensationalist news coverage of their atrocities against US targets.