The world’s poorest people are also taking the brunt of global warming’s negative effects.
Although the average African produces 13 times less harmful emissions than their North American counterparts, the African ecosystem is suffering far greater damage. Droughts and floods, as well as shifting ecosystems throughout the continent, threaten the welfare of both the people and wildlife of Africa.
Scientists warn that rising temperatures could cause massive extinctions for wildlife, including lions, elephants, and mountain gorillas. The climate change has also been blamed as the alleged cause of droughts which have left nearly 1.8 million Africans without a sufficient supply of clean water. The water shortage has caused outbreaks of malaria and cholera, as well as an increase in poverty.
Experts say most African nations are ill-prepared to fight global warming, although improved land management and natural gas use in place of coal could both help. University of Cape Town climatology specialist Professor Bruce Hewitson says that many African countries do not have the cash to meet the 2005 Kyoto Protocol emission reduction targets.
“The major challenge for developing countries is that they need more money and resources to help them fight the potentially devastating effects of climate change,” Hewitson said.
Africa’s ecological future largely depends on the actions of the world’s largest polluters, including the US, UK, India and China. If these countries don’t act to reduce their emissions of harmful pollutants, Africa likely faces devastating climate problems in the future.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN panel which recently won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to disseminate knowledge about man-made climate change, has warned that greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise over the next decade, further threatening Africa’s already precarious future.
Only time will tell if the rest of the world will fight to improve their emissions and help end the scourge of global warming, or sacrifice Africa through inaction.
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