By April Kummerer
Climate change has recently made its effects more apparent to Americans with the growing prevalence of unseasonable weather. Characterized by frequent winter storms and varying conditions, global warming is becoming more of a hot topic with Americans, some of whom identify as climate change skeptics in the face of empirical evidence. Its affects in the United States have varied between the aforementioned frequency of storms and unseasonably warm temperatures, as well as the variation of drought and flood conditions that have worsened considerably for states like California, as demonstrated by its 2016-17 state.
As unwelcomed as our climatological changes are, other areas of the globe have incurred more severe and detrimental conditions. Multiple areas of the Horn of Africa have experienced the severely negative effects of climate change. The majority of Kenya, specifically the north, have experienced extreme droughts that have increased in both intensity and frequency. The region is no stranger to droughts that have left residents desperate for the simple relief of rain; however, the droughts recently experienced by the region are more exacerbated than those which commonly occurred. The recorded climate in Northern Kenya has been hotter and drier, and the region has reportedly dried faster in the last hundred years than in the 2,000 prior. In the last twenty years alone, the area has experienced four severe droughts that have left dead livestock and crops and malnourished populations in their wake.
Residents of this region have experienced starvation, severe dehydration, and economic hardship as a result of the effects of climate change reported by local scientists. Mariao Tede, a resident of Northern Kenya, reported an inventory of 200 goats prior to the 2011 drought. After the deaths in her declining livestock due to the succession of the 2011 and 2017 severe droughts, Tede reported that she was left with five goats. This quantity is insufficient for selling, milking, or slaughtering for meat. This epidemic has forced farmers, such as Tede, to pursue other, less sustainable sources of income. Tede told the New York Times that she now gathers wood to produce charcoal, however, this process further hinders their climate, as it strips the land of its trees. This process prevents the little rain received by the region from soaking into the ground.
These issues of climatological change have the “fingerprints of global warming,” as reported by the New York Times, and are human-induced. Scientists advise that farmers in the region reevaluate and possibly change the crops they grow due to the evolving standard of the soil and that infrastructure, such as reservoirs, be developed to accommodate for the unpredictable changes in the climate.
First off, I would lie to recognize that climate change is a rampant issue, especially in developing countries. It seems though to be a very interesting system though to which it is mitigated. Developed countries spend the time debating, legislating, and formulating these laws and regulations that affect how policy is put in place. Now even though American legislation, cap and trade, water stipulations, etc. are ‘American’ by law. They have massive effects elsewhere in the world. This is often addressed in government, but from the perspective of the people, I feel this issue is unaddressed. People love to advocate for the local stream contamination, but do not realize the effect that our emissions have on that farmer in Kenya. These developing world’s governments are unable to even provide for their citizens, let alone concern themselves with environmental regulation. I do not understand how we can overlook the effect we have on the environment even if there are a lot of natural processes that deteriorate the environment our footprint is massive. It sounds like a broken record, but eventually, there will be no way to undo the damage and even though policy is finally emerging into the forefront of legislation it is still not enough, nor is it considered enough of a concern.
I love that you covered this piece. It raises an interesting point on what is regarded as “more important” as it relates to environmental protection. As for Kenya, I agree with Eric as it is foolish to think that the needs of the environment will be taken into consideration when survival is at stake. Environmental protection has been put on the back burner as humans tend to focus on issues that affect them in the ‘now’. It is interesting to see how our actions affect other countries as we tend to focus on the United States and how we experience climate change. Hopefully, more exposure to stories such as these, where lives are being currently affected makes us more aware of our actions as it relates to the environment.