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Sierra Leone News: Poor nations will suffer most from global warming – scientists warn

According to scientists, poor countries will be the ones most likely to suffer from global warming. “For some people, this is a life-or-death situation,” said Cornell University climate scientist, Natalie Mahowald, a lead author on the 700-page, United Nations report. Climate change is currently at the forefront of many political and environmental debates in the West, but for many poorer regions, particularly in Africa and South Asia, the effects of climate change are a daily reality. But meeting the more ambitious goal of slightly less warming would require immediate, draconian cut in emissions of heat-trapping gases and dramatic changes in the energy field. In 2010, international negotiator adopted a goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees since pre industrial time. It’s called the 2 degrees goal. In 2015, when the nations of the world agreed to the historic Paris agreement, they set dual goals 2 degrees. The 1.5 was at the urging of vulnerable countries that called 2 degrees a death sentence. The world has already warmed 1 degree C since pre-industrial times, so the talk is really about the difference of another half degree C or 0.9 degrees F from now. “There is no definitive way to limit global temperature rise 1.5 above pre-industrial levels. Global warming will and is having an effect on Sierra Leone.

  1. Natural disasters sink poor communities further into poverty

Studies suggest that natural disasters are on the rise, as evidenced by the fact that extreme weather events between 2000 and 2009 increased three-fold over the years between 1980 and 1989. Floods, tsunamis, droughts and other natural disasters can destroy communities with already fragile infrastructure. They often lack safe housing, live in overcrowded cities or very rural villages, and have little access to health and other services. As a result, communities can suffer widespread disease, shortages in food, water and basic necessities.

  1. Greater health risks

Human activities like driving cars and producing coal introduce carbon dioxide and other toxic gases that change the normal composition of the air we breathe. This reduction in air quality reduces the amount of oxygenation in the respiratory system, affecting the brain and the heart, which can lead to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The vast majority of people at risk are in urban areas in low and middle income countries. Children in less developed countries experience the greatest health risks. Another health-related impact of climate change is access to clean water. Shrinking sources of fresh water, droughts, changes to the water cycle, and few resources for purifying water, all cause less access to clean water and sanitation. This impacts health, especially for children, by increasing instances of waterborne diseases, malnutrition, and impaired developmental growth.

  1. Flooding and coastal erosion

Coastal flooding is becoming more prevalent because of rising sea levels. Over half of the world’s population is located within about 40 miles of the sea. When sea levels rise, coastal erosion and increased flooding occurs, forcing people to move and impacting economies dependent on climate-sensitive resources, such as agriculture. Flooding can also contaminate water sources, increasing the transmission of water-borne diseases, such as Typhoid and Cholera. Instances of Malaria can increase with flooding because standing water acts as breeding grounds for mosquitos.

  1. Food security

Changing temperatures and rain patterns, particularly droughts, have detrimental effects on farmers and can cause food insecurity. Unfavorable weather can lower crop yields and decimate livestock. This means that income goes down for farmers and their families, sending people further into poverty. It can also cause massive food shortages, increasing food prices, and even lead to famine.  “Global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rates,” the report states The pledges nations made in the Paris agreement in 2015 are clearly “insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 in any way,” one of the study’s lead authors, Joerj Roeglj of the imperial College in London said. Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming, the report said, adding that the world’s poor are more likely to get hit hard.

MJB/26/10/18

By Mohamed J. Bah

Monday October 29, 2018.

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