Guest essay by Vijay Jayaraj
It has long been claimed that climate change has been the reason behind the wars and violence in Africa. Even the recent water crisis in Cape Town was blamed on climate change.
But is it really so? What if the reality was completely different one?
Climate change is real. The world is changing, but not dying.
Africa is probably one of the under-reported continents in the international news section of the mainstream media. The reasons are obvious. Abject poverty, a weak economy, and vast geographical areas seriously lacking in communication facilities.
However, the city of Cape Town in South Africa grabbed global headlines this year, for the wrong reasons. The city faced an acute shortage of water, leading to a Day-Zero countdown, the day on which the city was forecasted to run out of its drinking-water supply.
Climate alarmists (those who believe that carbon dioxide emissions from human activity is causing a dangerous increase in global temperature levels) were quick to blame the Cape Town crisis on climate change.
Their claims turned out to be false. Cape Town survived through the severe drought and is now experiencing abundant rainfall. In fact, the major reservoirs that provide water to the region are more than 55 percent full.
It has since been revealed that the extraordinary claims by alarmists about Cape Town’s current climate were based on a false set of temperature measurements from America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The city had experienced equally high temperature levels back in the 1930s, and the current temperatures are not alarming by any stretch of imagination.
Yet a recent scientific paper by University College London has categorically proved that climate change was not the reason. The research indicated that poverty and politics were the key drivers.
It is reasonable to conclude that the dangers of climate change have been exaggerated and blown out of proportion to create mass hysteria among the people.
But on the flipside, climate change has actually made positive contributions that have benefitted the continent immensely in the past two centuries.
Contrary to popular opinion in mainstream media, climate change has been the main reason behind Africa’s greening in the last 20 years. Studies reveal that the growth of green cover in the continent can be directly attributed to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration levels.
Expansive spreads of Savannah grasslands became forests, increasing biodiversity and eventually resulting in increased forest cover.
This is also true globally. Since the Little Ice Age in the 16th and 17th centuries, an increase in temperature levels and carbon dioxide concentration helped the planet become greener and contributed to the agricultural success we enjoy today.
One cannot undermine the positive impact of this greening on the poverty situation in Africa and other poor areas, and on the diversification of natural resources caused by the greening, which can be utilized for progress and development.
This is shocking news to climate alarmists. They can no longer blindly blame climate change and carbon dioxide emissions for Africa’s—or the rest of the world’s—problems.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.