By Sharon Atieno
With temperature in the last decade rising by more than one degree and resulting to warmer climate, expert warns that in the new decade, the heat levels will remain the same or even hotter in some places.
Prof. Shem Wandiga, former Acting Director Institute for Climate Change & Adaptation (ICCA) during a press briefing by the Africa Science Media Centre noted that increased greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere largely due to human activities and industrialization was making the atmosphere warmer.
According to the 2014, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, carbon dioxide is the largest occupant of the atmosphere at 65%, followed by methane gas (16%), nitrous oxide (6%) and fluorinated gases such as Neon (2%).
Observing that more record hot weather climate has occurred almost yearly in the last decade, Prof. Wandiga said that the hot weather will persist unless the build-up of GHGs in the atmosphere is stopped.
He pointed out that the onus of reducing GHGs was upon every nation and not restricted to wealthy industrialized countries as everybody is being affected. “We have to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions in order to survive,” Prof. Wandiga urged African countries.
He said that the hot weather would result to more droughts thus, food insecurity as it will have devastating impact on agriculture. In addition, the hot weather would put a strain in the water availability as Africa is the second driest continent.
Already, climate change is a leading cause of food insecurity and malnutrition in the African region, with tremendous evidence showing worse impact if the heat continues. In 2017 alone, droughts left 12.8 million people in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia food insecure.
According to a 2013 World Bank report dubbed: Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience, 1.5 degrees warming in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030s could lead to about 40% of present maize cropping areas being no longer suitable for current cultivars, and significant negative impacts on sorghum.
The report further indicates that in less than two degrees of warming by 2050s, total crop production could be reduced by 10%. At two degrees, heat extremes could affect 15% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s land area in the hot season causing deaths and threatening farmer’s ability to grow crops.
Prof. Wandiga noted that African governments could do so many things to cut down on their carbon dioxide emissions including use of cleaner energies such as solar and geothermal, putting up commuter rail road system to reduce the need to drive, stop deforestation and encourage planting of tress, use of methane as opposed to fossil fuels as it will produce less carbon dioxide as well as putting up financial, political and economic policy to change those that are unwilling to change.
“Climate change is a threat to us and our livelihoods, and we must find our own solutions,” he said.