By Oswald Hanciles
All sane national leaders, religious leaders, business leaders…. now agree that Climate Change is an existential threat to the human race. Is US President Donald Trump not sane then? Trump has pulled the United States out of the 2016 “Paris Agreement” (The Paris Agreement is within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance. It was signed by 196 countries in 2016. The Paris Agreement’s long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels: this could substantially reduce the risks and effects of Climate Change). Trump trumpets the need for “America First” (Read: to sustain the American lifestyle of GLUTTONY), while justifying the United States’ continual use of environmentally-unfriendly fossil fuels.
In the Climate Change War Trump is the enemy. To me, Climate Change’s ramifications for Africa is another intensification of the physical war, psychological war, economic war… that Europeans/Americans have waged on Africans for about 600 years now – starting with four centuries of the Atlantic Slave Trade, almost a century of European colonialization of Africa; and the skewed global economic systems rigged against Africa that African countries have been coerced to be part of. Yoked by chronic inferiority complex, the response of Africa’s leadership to the nightmarish scenarios being predicted for Africa is one of begging the West, hoping that through spasmodic speeches in international fora, the conscience of the West would be touched, and the West would dramatically change centuries-old mindsets and economic systems.
Africa’s “Begging” War Strategy
“Most crises usually have a variety of festering causes and effects. It is the failure to address them early and effectively that lead to out-of-control conflicts….”: those were the words of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Retired General Muhammadu Buhari, at the 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations at New York.
Buhari at the UN in 2018 said: “… Climate change remains one of the greatest challenges of our time. Very close to us at home, it is our lot in Nigeria, together with our neighbours around the Chad Basin, to live with the climate change consequences of a drastically shrunk Lake Chad and the parching up of otherwise fertile arable lands…. (Lake Chad’s) shrinking meant loss of livelihoods and they are now rendered poor and vulnerable to the activities of extremists and terrorist groups. The instability thus caused in the sub-region intensified internal displacements leading, among other consequences, to intense economic competition especially between farmers and herdsmen…”
Many credible Nigerian analysts are likely to be derisive of Buhari’s citing of Climate Change as a “root cause” of the festering violence in the Northeast of Nigeria. They could cite as “root cause” the 50 years of Northern Hausa-Fulani domination of Nigeria’s politics; the near-institutionalized predatory lifestyle of the Nigerian political elite which Buhari has futilely tried to tame; and the governing elite’s crude insensitivity to the plight of the majority, that which has resulted in about 60% of Nigeria’s 200 million people living in poverty today, making petroleum-rich Nigeria “the poverty capital of the world”. For Africa to have the moral authority to demand the urgently-needed massive Climate Change funding from the West and China – my ideological demand is “$2 trillion annually for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation measures in Africa from the richest nations of the world” – the Big Lies being spouted by too many of Africa’s leadership must be burst: bad governance; Political Tribalism; corruption, etc.; the governing elites must be part of the enemies within Africa to be fought in the Climate Change War.
President Bio on “Renewable Energy”
“…(Sierra Leone)… needs public and private investment for commercial and industrial use, powering hotels, agriculture, and small-scale manufacturing. My country is endowed with significant renewable energy resources in solar irradiation, coastal and offshore wind, minihydro, and bioenergy… My government is seeking collaboration between local companies and US engineering companies that have proven experience in working on PowerAfrica funded LNG-Power projects in Africa…”: the words of Sierra Leone’s President, Retired Brigadier Maada Bio, at the same United Nations meeting addressed by Retired General Buhari.
Just after the UN Assembly in New York in 2018, an American journalist interviewed President Bio in the US. She asked about commercial logging which is resulting in the rapid loss of Sierra Leone’s tropical rainforests. President Bio responded that the loss of tropical rainforests because of commercial logging would be mitigated by significant reforestation programme. I was shocked by the President’s ignorance on issues that touch on the tropical rainforests. Some 60% of world’s genetic materials are found in tropical rainforests. One tree in, say, Koinadugu District, can be host for twenty to fifty species. When you chop down that one tree, you destroy the home for all the other species that would be dependent on it. You cannot just say in a cavalier manner – like the Chief Minister in the Bio Administration, Prof. David Francis, has been saying – “Cut one tree and plant three trees”: for the genetic materials lost in one tree in the tropical rainforests could take hundreds of years to return, likely, they could be irreversibly lost. Guess what? It is the genetic materials in our rainforests that can be used as ‘bargaining chips’ for the other needs of Sierra Leone that Sierra Leone is asking for assistance for: that has been my thirty-years-long ideological thrust.
The Chronic Inferiority Complex of the African
Africans have been burdened by centuries of inferiority complex. Africans are less likely to believe what I write, or, take action on my writings. Since the early 1980s when I waded into environmentalism while in Liberia; since 1987 when I was the brain/CEO of the Save My Future Conservation Society in Liberia; then in green projects in Nigeria and Sierra Leone in the 1990s, my ideological emphasis has been to use the reality of global warming to seek redress for the four centuries of the Atlantic Slave Trade; to stimulate justice in the global economic systems that have been rigged against Africa.
“… Climate change represents a nightmare scenario for the future of the people of the world’s poorest continent (Africa!), according to the official preparing a top-level report… (The Stern Review) states ….Small rises in temperature and reductions in rainfall could ‘tip the balance’ and lead to severe water shortages and reductions in crop yields… These could fall by as much as 30 per cent by the 2050s…..Sir Nick’s remarks comes on top of one by…Christian Aid, which suggested that up to 182 million people in sub-Saharan Africa could die of diseases directly attributable to climate change by the end of the century…”(SOURCE: Climate change will be catastrophe for Africa http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-will-be-catastrophe-for-africa-478375.html; written by Paul Vallely ; Monday 15 May 2006).
A 2017 Thompson Foundation report warns that “Africa is at highest risk of major economic blow from future climate threats”: “Countries most dependent on agriculture are at risk of experiencing changes over the next 30 years and face the biggest costs with the effects of the extreme weather, according to a global climate index…. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 17 of the 20 countries most economically reliant on agriculture in the world”. The National Medium-Term Development Plan (NMTDP) of the Bio Administration launched in January, 2019, states that about 60% of the workforce of Sierra Leone is in agriculture; and agriculture constitutes 65% of Sierra Leone’s GDP. These African countries also “lack the resources” to cope with Climate Change caprices. Another thing, while agriculture yields are predicted to nosedive, the figures on those who must be fed would spike. The aforementioned Report states: “Countries which are most exposed to climate change are also those projected to experience the greatest growth in population between 2015 and 2050, Verisk Maplecroft said. According to the NMTDP, Sierra Leone’s 3.2% growth rate is one of the highest in the world.
Climate Change Apartheid
“ The world is on course for ‘climate apartheid’, where the rich buy their way out of the worst effects of global warming while the poor bear the brunt, a UN human rights report said on Tuesday (June 25, 2019)…. President (Donald) Trump has …presided over an aggressive rollback of environmental regulations, and is actively silencing and obfuscating climate science,” Alston wrote. (SOURCE: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/in–climate-apartheid—rich-will-save-themselves-while-poor-suffer–un-report-11660530).
In the August 18, 2019 edition of the “GPS” show on CNN by Fareed Zakaria, former Irish President, Mary Robinson, said this: “The rich pollute; the poor pay”. Robinson called for global justice. In GREENLOVE magazine I was Editor in Liberia in 1989, published by SAMFU, the cover story I wrote as Editor called for a “Marshall Plan” for Africa. ‘Nar thirty year ar done take way are dae tuk en rite di thing way waiteman dae tuk tidae. Una yeri now O!!’
African demands courageous leadership and bold vision. Even if Africa adopts the best of environmentally-
friendly ways – like planting trees; by using environmentally-
friend energy, etc. – the urgency and magnitude and COMPLEXITY of the Climate Change problems would mean hardly any country in Africa have the financial and intellectual resources to put in place Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation measures in proportion to the complex challenges. Africa must unite. What the Bio Administration has embarked on – revoking some foreign mining licenses to bring Justice and equity in the mining industry – can ONLY be sustainably successful when the issue is addressed by a UNITED POSITION OF AFRICA.
In a war, there are enemies and friends. In the Climate Change War, the enemy is not as obvious as it was during the Second World War when the Allied nations of Britain, Russia, France, United States… had visible enemies of Germany, Italy, and Japan. The enemies in the Climate Change War are amorphous – they could be US President Donald Trump, or, the presidents of Nigeria and Sierra Leone; or, a predatory elite who think they could escape the worst effects of Climate Change by being lukewarm in providing leadership for environmentally-
friendly action. Or, the enemy could be the IDEAS that have gotten humanity to the Climate Change precipice – ideas of racial superiority; ideas of racial inferiority among the black race; ideas of zero-sum-war-
game of capitalism.