In addition to rapidly melting polar ice caps, we’re seeing signs of climate change everywhere from Africa to Argentina. Climate deniers say the earth is simply going into a new climate age. It’s not us, they insist, its nature. However, scientists maintain that there’s nothing natural about the rapid rate at which global temperatures and water levels are rising and dropping.
In Namibia, rainfall seldom exceeds 270 millimeters a year. Here, every raindrop counts. Because average temperatures linger around 40 degrees Celsius, 83 percent of the rain that does fall evaporates before it hits the ground. In a report to the United Framework Convention on Climate Change, the government of Namibia has predicted global warming will cause a temperature rise of between 2-6 degrees Celsius while annual rainfall could diminish up to 200mm. This is a major problem the Namibian people who largely rely on subsistence farming. In fact, seventy percent of the population practices some sort of agriculture.
In the East of Africa, Ugandan coffee farmers are also worried about climate change as recent rainfall has been sporadic putting coffee crops at risk. The farmers have tried to cope with the effects of climate change by planting trees to shade the crops, and digging long irrigation trenches to capture water, but doubt they will be able to continue without assistance.
In Argentina, farmers have been facing the opposite problem. Fears of flooding began in 2006 when icebergs wear seen floating off the Argentine coast. Now, flooded farmlands have become wastelands, putting the agricultural sector on dire straits. Global warming, the result of human-generated gas emissions, is the confirmed cause.
Climate change has worsened the plight of Iraqi and Rajasthan farmers as well. Iraq, which has doubly been suffering from the ravages of a war for resources, has experienced a drop on crop cover on almost 40 percent of farmland especially in the North. Iraqi farmers say the temperature rise has deformed their crops.
In the U.S., farmers in Texas have been facing drought conditions, preventing them from planting crops and forcing cattle producers to culls their herds.
If you think you’re not affected by circumstances which seem to only cause real harm to farmers, think deeper. Farming rich countries export their produce. Argentina, for example, is the world’s third largest exporter of beef, corn, and soybeans. And African countries are within the world’s top ten exporters of coffee. When the lives of farmers around the world are being destroyed by climate change and prices at the grocery store rise, you see that everyone is being affected.
To combat climate change, global change needs to happen too.
The Huffington Post reports that according to a recent UNEP assessment, by 2100, the world can expect global average temperature rises between 2.5˚C and 5˚C (4.5˚F-9˚F) over pre-industrial levels even if all the greenhouse gas emissions cuts pledged by countries in the UN climate negotiations are fulfilled. If these pledges are not honored, warming will be even greater:
It is imperative that governments start now to incorporate climate risks into plans and policies in sectors such as urban development, coastal planning, agriculture, water and forestry management, and electricity production. If they don’t, major investments by governments and donors may be wasted or quickly become obsolete. And the world’s most vulnerable and resource-poor societies will miss critical opportunities to become more climate-resilient.
For more on how planner and policy makers and specifically incorporate climate risks into their decisions, see these suggestions by the Huffington Post.
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