FIGHTING BACK

Climate change: Nature's wrath is nigh

We are witnessing the fulfilment of Maathai’s prophecy when she talked of nature being unforgiving

In Summary
  • We are watching in horror as the government slowly destroys the Nairobi National Park under the guise of ‘development projects’
  • At the state level, more budgetary allocations need be channelled towards conservation efforts.

The country’s lakes are rising by the day putting many lives and livelihoods in jeopardy. From Lake Victoria all the way to Lake Baringo, the fascinating Lake Bogoria down to Lake Nakuru, to name but a few, the story is the same. 

For a long time, many folks considered global warming and climate change mere academic terms advanced by fear-mongering scientists. This view is still being held by many, including influential people like US President Donald Trump who argue that climate change is a hoax. It is not.

If you ask an Ilchamus elder on the shores of Lake Baringo or a seasoned fisherman on Lake Victoria, they may not have a scientific explanation but they have lived long enough to know that something unusual is happening in their ecosystem.

Countries have tried to respond to the challenges posed by climate change in various multilateral fora. The 1992 Earth summit in Brazil was a major success where important resolutions on sustainable development and climate change were agreed upon. However, countries, like humans, are driven by selfish interests and many a time the desire for economic gain supersedes environmental concerns.

Thus, greenhouse gases continue being emitted by industries, forests continue to be depleted, marine wildlife continues to die due to pollution and oceans continue to rise due to warming. These are weighty issues that pose an existential threat to mankind.

Despite being the global headquarters for UNEP, matters to do with the environment and climate change do not get the attention they deserve in Kenya. Our leaders have more pressing issues to attend to such as 2022 succession, constitutional amendments, likes and retweets on social media and, of course, the next big opening to ‘supply’ goods and services at a premium fee.

Some of the exaggerated budgetary allocations awarded to security agencies can be channelled towards this noble cause. After all, most conflicts occur due to shrinking resources. Sustainable development is an answer to many security challenges.

Without sustainable development, the earth’s resources will be exhausted. We are thus going to witness more conflicts as rivers and streams dry due to the destruction of water catchment areas. How, for example, will the Samburu and their herds survive without the waters from River Ewaso Ng’iro? It will certainly lead to confrontations and major security issues in Laikipia between the farmers and conservancies on one hand and the pastoralists on the other.

What about the Mau Forest and the Mara ecosystem? Will the famed wildebeests' migration that brings the country so much revenue and prestige take place in 2030? Will Mombasa and other coastal cities still be in existence with the rising sea levels? What about entire populations who earn their livelihood from lakes? Where will they be resettled? These are critical issues that need to be addressed by serious and robust policies.

Nature is fighting back, we are witnessing the fulfilment of Prof Wangari Maathai’s prophecy when she talked of nature being unforgiving. We are watching in horror as the government slowly destroys the Nairobi National Park under the guise of ‘development projects’. Politicians continue to embarrassingly display their ignorance by politicising the evictions from water catchment areas because they are ‘fighting for their people’. These retrogressive actions are already haunting us.

The solution, in my opinion, is threefold. At the individual level, we must do more to nurture our environment with simple things like planting trees and disposing of waste responsibly. At the state level, more budgetary allocations need be channelled towards conservation efforts. Some of the exaggerated budgetary allocations awarded to security agencies can be channelled towards this noble cause.

After all, most conflicts occur due to shrinking resources. Sustainable development is an answer to many security challenges. There should also be a firm resolve to evict those occupying water catchment areas, riparian lands and those emitting harmful chemicals to water bodies and the air.

Lastly, tackling climate change is a global effort. International treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Accord need to be implemented to the letter. The world needs to move away from greenhouse gases, which accelerate global warming, and adopt eco-friendly products. Let us think of future generations by adopting sustainable development.