Get united against adverse effects of climate change!

By Fanowedy Samara
Dec. 16 2010

Some authors try to point out that history of the world is the history of human being. And the history of human being can be described as the history of man-to mean human being-and his relationship with his environment-nature. As a result man has been influenced and been influenced by nature in due process in striving to fulfill his needs and wants directly or indirectly.

It is supposed that the relationship between man and nature and vice versa started during the early periods of stone ages. In this period, man started to manipulate his nature by using crude ‘technologies’. Cultural anthropologists called this period as the earliest period of human development and the longest phase of man’s history. It was during this age that man developed some ‘technologies’ in order to further exploit his nature.

As man advanced his technological capability, man started domestication of plants and taming of animals. This further intensified man’s interaction with his environment particularly, after man accelerated Agricultural Revolution around 8500 and 7000 BC.

Up to the industrialization period, however, the man-nature relationship was not such a devastative. It was right after the proliferation of industries that man started to exhaustively exploiting its environment, particularly after the innovation of some technologies that consume coal and fossil oil. This negative relationship between man and nature adversely affects the wellbeing of man in general. Thus, the more man exploits its environment, the more suicide he commits eventually.

Until the era of industrialization, it is supposed that man exerted his pressure on nature. And this trend has been changed its magnitude and effect directly with the massive increment of industries over the globe. Thus, the world has been exerting its full pressures to human life as industries expand in number and develop their sophistication over time. To alleviate this problem, countries have been collectively fighting against carbon emission for about decades.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which was proclaimed in 1992 is one of the collective efforts of nations to alter the ever increasing climate change over the planet Earth. This framework Concerns that human activities have been substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. And these increases enhance the natural greenhouse effect which in turn will result on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. According to the framework, the ever increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases would eventually affect the natural ecosystem in general and the life of man in particular.

It also acknowledges that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions as well. Likewise, the framework recognizes that States should enact effective environmental legislation. That is, environmental standards, management objectives and priorities should reflect the environmental and developmental context to which they apply. It states that standards applied by some countries may be inappropriate and of unwarranted economic and social cost to other countries, in particular developing countries.

The UN Framework also focuses that all countries, especially developing countries, need access to resources required to achieve sustainable social and economic development. And in order for developing countries to progress towards that goal, their energy consumption will need to grow taking into account the possibilities for achieving greater energy efficiency and for controlling greenhouse gas emissions in general, including through the application of new technologies on terms which make such an application economically and socially beneficial.

Paragraph one of article 2 of the framework indicates that members of the convention should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. This paragraph insists that developed countries should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.

Moreover, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer underlines that measures to protect the ozone layer from modifications due to human activities require international co-operation and action based on relevant scientific and technical considerations. Paragraph one of this convention further stresses that member countries to this convention shall take appropriate measures in accordance with the provisions of this Convention and of those protocols in force to which they are party to protect human health and the environment against adverse effects resulting or likely to result from human activities which modify or are likely to modify the ozone layer.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer also emphasizes that member countries to the protocol get determined to protect the ozone layer by taking precautionary measures to control equitably total global emissions of substances that deplete it with the ultimate objective of their elimination on the basis of developments in scientific knowledge. In so doing, they take into account technical and economic considerations.

Although a lot of efforts have been made so far, climate change still remains very sensitive issue across the globe for most of these above and other unmentioned agreements have not been properly implemented for a number of reasons. Thus, it needs further cooperation and commitments of every citizen. Every nation should also ensure that the issue of climate change is given due attention in its policies and strategies. Otherwise, the destiny of man would eventually be fierce.

To clearly understand the trend of global warming, it would be better to see some figures carbon emission in some selected years. A report on global warming issued in 2000 indicated that USA and Canada released 26%, West Europe 15%, East Asia 13%, Eastern Europe and Russia 12.8%, India and South East Asia11%, Australia, Japan, and Pacific Ocean States together 6.4%, Middle East 6% and Africa 3% of the world carbon emissions. Thus, the earth is becoming hotter and hotter as carbon emission increases over time. Consequently, its temperature increases by 20C per year.

According to this report, Africa and other developing nations of the world contributed almost nothing to the global warming. Rather, some developing countries are playing their utmost roles to tackle the problem through planting trees along with their natural forests. For instance, Ethiopia planted more than 70 million trees during the Ethiopian Millennium. One can also easily understand the role of the Amazon and Zaire Basins in keeping the ecological balance by observing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The New Public website also depicts the carbon emission levels of major regions from 1980 to 2005 as follows.carbon emission levels of major regions

The above graph indicates that carbon emission has been dramatically increasing with in about two and half decades. The ever increasing carbon emission is directly associated with the ever intensification of fossil oil consumptions. Thus, industrial proliferation of advanced nations entails dire consequences for the entire world which in turn accelerates depletion of natural resources and hence, global warming.

Another study carried out in 2007 also reveals that 81.11% of the world carbon dioxide is released by the European Union nine and countries -China, the United States of America, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, South Korea and Iran. According to this study, China, the United States of America and the European Union alone release more than 56% of the world carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Coming to Africa, the Republic of South Africa releases the highest carbon dioxide (1.48%) to the atmosphere followed by Egypt (0.63%).

On the contrary, African and Latin American nations cover more than half of the world rainforest. The rainforests of these countries absorb the lion share of the world carbon dioxide and thereby maintain the ecological balance of the Earth. The Amazon and the Zaire rain forests alone for instance, represent more than half of the planet's rainforests and it comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world. Unfortunately, African and Latin American nations are badly affected by the consequences of global warming in spite of the fact that they contribute the lion share of the global Oxygen to maintain the ecological balance.

As this author tries to mention earlier, global warming is a consequence of intensive use of carbon and less attention to the natural environment. The intensive uses of carbon fuels by those developed countries accelerate the global warming. That is, the industrial pace of advanced nations is mounting more than ever though they currently face great financial and economic crises. As a result, their development height and life standards of their peoples are rising.

Conversely, development efforts and life standards of developing nations, such as African countries, rapidly declines and they might probably fail with in the next few decades if things go as usual. One might ask” How rapid industrialization of advanced nations adversely affects development paces of developing nations?” True, agriculture and agriculture related activities are the backbones of their economies for the developing countries of the world. Agriculture is the sources of their subsistence and foreign exchange. Moreover, it is the source of their psychological makeup and social bondages of their people as well.

Africa and other developing countries of the world follow rain fed type of agriculture. Unfortunately, the world has become hotter and hotter more than ever as a consequence of the global warming. This in turn negatively affects the amount of rain fall almost throughout the globe. Declining the amount of rain fall triggers the declining in the amount of agricultural productivity in the countries whose economy solely depends on rain fed agriculture.

This situation escalates the poverty situation in the developing nations. By implication, whenever developed nations race to enhance their industrialization on the basis of intensive utilization of carbon based resources, Africa and other developing countries of the world incur incalculable costs. Thus, the advancement of developed countries is almost at the expense of developing nations. Consequently, the developing countries are forced to seek the support of the advanced ones. Their economy becomes highly dependent on foreign aid. This in turn sows seeds of dependency among the victims of global warming.

Whenever they ask aid for survival, donors put infinite conditionalities to give even insufficient aid for the development endeavors of developing nations. Poor countries would not get the aid unless they agree to fulfill these infinite preconditions. Therefore, they are forced to shade their economic sovereignty so as to obtain the aid that they madly need it. Therefore, they cannot independently utilize it whatsoever important their project might be for their strategic development. Rather, they have to get the consent of their donors. This adversely affects the policy autonomy of the poor nations.

One might ask “What are the proper remedies? And what should the world do to alleviate the negative consequences of global warming?” These are right questions for which nations should properly address it right now.

First and foremost, all citizens particularly citizens of developing nations, should get united to collectively pressurize the advanced nations to properly hear their voices Moreover, they should have one and only one position on the issue of climate change. They should never allow creating any form of disparity on this common issue of human being.

Furthermore, the industrialized nations who are responsible to the problems of global warming should pay developing nations fair compensation. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in his address to the12th heads of States and Government Summit of the African Union held in Addis Ababa underscored that “it is only fair that those who have created the problem should pay to enable us to manage the consequences of the problem they created.” And “such compensation should not in no case be lower than the development assistance we currently get and should be a matter of contractual agreement rather than a matter of aid.” Hence, all citizens of the developing nations and concerned individuals, groups or organizations should unite to make these developing nations’ objectives real.

Developing nations should also adopt their own home grown policies and strategies emanated from their own objective situations. There is no need to completely adopt foreign policies and strategies. Liberal policies and strategies might be well functional in the west most advanced countries for their socio-political and socio- economic conditions are probably conducive to liberalism. But it could not wok to developing nations with quite different socio-political and socio- economic grounds. Hence, developing countries should have their own home grown policy objectives and these objectives must spring from their own objective situation.

Moreover, developing countries like African states should have strong leaders to implement their home grown policies and strategies to alleviate the catastrophic consequences of global warming. Whatever important the policies and strategies are, and what ever forms they might have, these policies and strategies could not bear the desired fruits unless there is strong, effective and most importantly committed leadership. And citizens of the nation should actively participate in order to make these home grown policies and strategies real.

Thus, the industrialized nations who are responsible for the negative consequences of global warming should compensate developing countries to enable them defend themselves from the risks of global warming which they are now facing. And citizen should get united in order to halt the adverse effects of climate change.