Third Eye

Brutal geopolitical reality in race to save the Earth

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 00:00 |
Climate change. Photo/Courtesy

As Kenyans remain fixated with the ongoing political hullabaloo, the world is waking up to the brutal geopolitical reality of an existential threat to Planet Earth and humanity.

Climate change is today awash in the front pages of newspapers, digital platforms and prime TV news, with ominous warnings of an even bigger threat than Covid-19. 

The pandemic has upended daily life like nothing else this century, shuttering economies, plunging millions into economic uncertainty, food insecurity and has left nearly five million people dead worldwide. 

Covid-19 dominates discussion around public health, but medical experts in 230 journals jointly last month named climate change as “the greatest threat to public health”. 

World leaders this week gather in Glasgow, Scotland for the UN Climate Summit (COP26) in a bid to avert calamitous damage to climate-ravaged Earth, with the scientists’ words ringing in their ears.

They must take strong immediate action to limit global warming and destruction of the natural world.

Politicians in a mad rush towards the 2022 General Election should add climate change and the war against Covid-19 to the ringtones of their political clamour.

The media too has to explore the science-policy-people interface deeper to enable the public to acquire and absorb correct, balanced, quality information.

Climate coverage is still relegated to slow science and environmental beats, outside the realm of hard news.

Yet climate is not just a story… it is the backdrop of all other stories. It is life, so it requires depth and quality in its coverage.

Climate change will no more get scant attention and resources in newsrooms.

Communication experts assert the climate crisis is now a top political, economic and public health story – with global warming shaping supply chains, water resources, tech infrastructure, community development and loss.

Government and journalists need to take equitable action to avert the beginning of the end of the Earth as we know it.

Yes, politicians, scientists and environmentalists will in Glasgow offer their plans to reduce global carbon emissions and slow the planetary Armageddon.

However, plans for an international agreement will fall far short of what is required, unless solutions many frontline communities are already implementing are backed by what experts say is the only strategy that can save the planet – a ‘US-China Climate Survival Alliance’.

Geopolitical reason: China and the US (the largest carbon polluter in history) are critical to the global climate change equation measured in their present roles in both carbon consumption and CO2 emissions.

For the Earth’s survival, the US and China must not prioritise trade competition and war preparations.

The first ever US National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change released last week ahead of COP26 envisages the world failing to cooperate, leading to dangerous competition and instability. 

It also warns that the impact of climate change will be felt around the globe and identifies 11 poor countries and two regions where energy, food, water and health security are at particular risk.

A brutal climate reality is already sinking in here at home. The World Meteorological Organisation report State of the Climate in Africa 2020 notes that the three mountains in Africa hosting glaciers – Mt Kenya, Mt Ruwenzori in Uganda and Mt Kilimanjaro – have seen their glaciers sink to less than 20 per cent of their late 19th century extent.

If the current rates prevail, these mountains and their scientific and touristic importance, will be deglaciated due to anthropogenic climate change by the 2040s, with Mt Kenya likely even a decade earlier. [email protected]

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