Climate Change: Can Human Beings Save the Planet?
Until a few years ago I wasn’t what some would term as a “tree hugger.” i.e. people who take care of the environment very seriously. Some of my reasons were I used to (and still do) find organizations like Green Peace irritating; chasing around ships trying to save whales and polar bears. Also until a few years ago I wasn’t convinced that human activity was the main cause of climate change, after all world climate has changed throughout the planets history; wasn’t there like a mini-ice age a few hundred years ago? So what’s different now, what’s all this fuss about trying to save the planet? While it is true that climate does change over time, after reading more about the issue it became pretty clear to me that human activity has unnaturally sped up climate change. Ever since industrialization began in Europe around 150 years ago the temperatures have been shooting up. Admittedly there is still some debate on this; I heard the other day on BBC someone saying that temperatures are actually going down (I’m yet to research this), so this topic is not as black and white as some make it out to be.
One thing is elementary though, neglect and destruction of the environment is going to bring lots of problems for us and we will suffer, big time. I sometimes call Wangari Maathai a prophet (I truly think she is), she was so way ahead of her time in Kenya; look how long it has taken the general public to acknowledge the problem when she has been talking about it since the 70s. By the way I think her book Unbowed should be in every Kenyan library; her message is just so relevant to now and her life story is truly amazing, a truly bold and patriotic woman. At a time when most Kenyans would not even think bad thoughts about the KANU govt. she wrote letters to the AG & President and stood up against KANU goons to save Uhuru Park & Karura Forest. Many Kenyans are still caught up in the political arguments between Raila and Ruto over the Mau Forest, but I refuse to fall into their (politicians) trap. The Mau Forest has nothing to do with Raila Odinga or William Ruto, it is about preserving our forest cover and not about who is for conservation or not. If you think these politicians is doing it out of love for their country clearly you learnt nothing after 2007/08 violence.
I was at first skeptical about the Copenhagen Summit but my interest has been piqued as the event has gone on. Here you have rich nations who are supposed to be leading the way for the rest of the world, being the worst polluters on the planet. The USA for one looks like a joke right now; here is the so-called world leader being the biggest culprit in terms of spewing muck into the atmosphere. Now China and U.S are playing a game of “you first” as to who will be first to agree to significant emissions cuts. Obama on his part is trying to hoodwink the world by saying the U.S will implement emissions cuts of 17% by 2020, but what he doesn’t mention is U.S carbon emissions will go up by another in the same period by about 15%(24-40% is needed) so the real cut will actually be 4%! nice try guys. China on the other hand is racing to catch up and overtake the U.S economy and you know they “ain’t tryna” slow down their booming industries and factories any time soon. Climate Change just demonstrates the weaknesses in this so-called “best of bad systems” called capitalism; it can truly be a sick system. As in, humans are willing to take their planet to hell just to make a profit; it’s mind-boggling how short-sighted our species can be.
So now developing nations walked out of the Copenhagen meeting in protest of rich nations trying to do away with the Kyoto Protocol (which the U.S refused to sign) and implement a new one. Environment Minister John Michuki (this guy should have been President)i said the rich nations are practicing “dictatorship” on this issue. He used the analogy of a country trying to join the U.N; that country wouldn’t throw out the U.N constitution so they can be allowed to join which is basically what the USA is trying to do. The USA wants to control any agreement being signed in their usual imperialist manner, but I think the developing world should unite and veto (can they do that) any agreement trying to overturn Kyoto. If the USA is refusing to sign Kyoto because they want to wiggle away from significant emissions cuts, then they should be left out in the cold so the world knows who the real guilty party is. They shouldn’t be allowed to change the rules just to suit their country while the world suffers from the effects of their industries.
So what is the result of all these talks and summits, will anything concrete change on the ground? I doubt it, the U.S is not trying to give up the No.1 spot to anyone and thus their carbon emission will go up even more. China could care less about going green; they have only been doing token measures like building a “green” building here and there.
Sadly I don’t think humans will do much to stop and/or reverse adverse climate change. In my opinion its human nature to wait until there is real disaster until we finally wake up. This disaster would probably mean the freezing over of Europe and U.S (I don’t think even millions dying in Africa will change anything, it has to affect *sigh* white people before action is taken.) So get used to hotter and hotter decades to come, and think about how your children and grand-children will survive in an unpredictable new world. People in the Maldives will soon have to look for a whole new country as their island goes under the sea; this might be another major humanitarian crisis to come.
All that said, do what you can as an individual to preserve the environment:
· Do not burn plastics and other pollutants, recycle.
· Plant trees in your compound and water and take care of them. Urge friends, neighbors to do the same.
· Collect rain water in storage tanks in your home.
- use methods like drip irrigation on your farm(s) to use water efficiently.
· Install solar panels and wind generators in your home if possible.
· Switch off lights, turn off taps when not in use.
· If you live near work and don’t travel much, sell your car and use a bicycle. Or use public transport.
· Do not litter the streets, there are dustbins all over Nairobi use them.
· When you’re at Coast don’t throw litter on the beach or into the ocean.
· Demand to know what environmental policies your MP is implementing in your constituency; make it an issue that your MP can’t ignore.
· Urge the Kenyan government to implement green(er) technologies & infrastructure like electric transport systems, wind turbines, solar, geo-thermal, nuclear etc. Visit the relevant ministries and ask to see what policies are in place. (You can also write letters, articles to newspapers/magazines.)
This as I realized some years ago has nothing to do with being a “tree-hugger” or some environmental freak. God instructed us in Genesis to take care of Creation. Don’t be a short-sighted person, take conservation seriously and play your part as a citizen of the world, let your descendants think of you well for what you did for the planet.