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14 of the 20 most at risk nations of climate change distresses are African countries. These countries are considered as so susceptible due to the vulnerability of the population as well as the continent’s liability to extreme climate events.

Specifically, these African nations tend to experience extreme losses due to droughts, floods, fires, storms and landslides. Additionally, weak economies, governance, education and healthcare systems make it difficult to tackle or adapt to these problems.

Over 200 governments agree that global warming will exceed 2 degrees Celsius, causing much devastation and hardship, especially in Africa.

For instance, sea-level rise along Africa’s coastline is expected to be 10 percent higher than in the rest of the world, and in Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Gambia, up to 10 percent of the population would be at risk of floods each year by 2100.

The cost involved to address this looming danger amounts to billions.

According to the United Nations, adaptation costs faced by Africa range from $7 billion to $15 billion annually by 2020. Moreover, that amount could increase to $350 billion annually by 2070.

Some of the adaptation projects include developing drought-resistant crops, building early warning systems, investing in renewable energy sources, producing better drainage, building sea walls and prioritizing reforestation and desalinization.

According to the World Bank, there is a 40 percent chance of temperatures rising by 3.5 to 4 degrees Celsius if these types of climate change mitigation efforts are not stepped up.

Adaptation measures could, in fact, decrease the impacts of climate change in Africa.

Currently, projections for Africa are grim, even without the 2 degrees Celsius warming. Undernourished Africans are likely to increase by 25 percent to 90 percent, crop production will be reduced as arid areas are expected to increase by four percent, protein needs for over 60 percent of the communities would be jeopardized as fish will decline in African freshwater lakes and the necessary infrastructure for African communities to cope with climate impacts is inadequate. These effects will result in an increase of premature deaths, a rise in healthcare concerns and a decrease in food production.

The adaptation costs required to address the global temperature rise could reach four percent of Africa’s GDP by 2100. Therefore, additional funding is imperative if Africa is to move towards a climate-resilient life saving path. To meet this need, annual funds would need to grow at an average rate of 10 percent to 20 percent per year from 2011 to the 2020’s.

– Caressa Kruth

Sources: Thomson Reuters Foundation, The World Bank, CNN

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There’s more to climate change than warmer summers and winters.

In the Pacific Ocean, the entire nation of Kiribati is facing a threat that has become all too common among the inhabitants of islands, archipelagos, and the like across the globe. Although this common threat is to be feared greatly, it is not terrorism or a military coup. This great threat is sea level rise and it is but one of the many effects of climate change that have become all too familiar for the inhabitants of many of the Earth’s once beautiful and lush islands.

But sea level rise is just the beginning. According to an article by The Guardian, carbon emission is at its highest point in 300 million years. As a result of the increased emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), the Earth’s climate has changed significantly – a change which has resulted in undesirable effects such as sea level rise and ocean acidification.

Many Americans think the effects of climate change (or global warming to many) will not be felt for many years and is a problem best left for future generations to handle. However, the effects of climate change can be felt right now, bringing more than just hot summers and warm winters. In fact, sea level rise and ocean acidification may be two of the biggest contributors to a problem that many agree is facing the world at present: global food security.

Ocean acidification and sea level rise dramatically affect the ability of the Earth’s many islanders to sustain the livelihood of the families who rely on the islands’ resources for survival. For instance, sea level rise has already caused significant damage to many island villages across the globe. A rise in sea level raises high water marks, and these increased high water marks have resulted in higher tides. These higher tides often destroy crops and contaminate drinking water, leaving many islanders with no choice but to seek refuge on the mainland once the sea level reaches a critical level.

While the effects of ocean acidification are less significant than that of sea level rise, there is strong evidence the current level of carbon emissions will likely soon begin to affect marine life. Currently, acidification damages coral reefs, which are vital to the health of fisheries, acting as a nursery to young fish and smaller species that provide food for bigger fish. Acidification also harms plankton, which fish rely on for development. Since further and more extensive acidification is inevitable at current emission rates, it is likely that those who rely on marine life as a significant source of food will be greatly affected in the coming years.

A rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide can also affect the availability of food on the mainland of several continents, not just on islands. For instance, a study by Rosenzweig and Parry suggests that crop yields in Africa and South America may decrease as concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere become greater.

Although reducing emissions will not have an immediate impact on climate change, if the process does not begin now, the livelihood of many islanders is almost guaranteed to worsen. Due to the significant effects the changing climate can have on feeding the world’s hungry, it is important to ensure that climate change legislation is pursued with as equal vigor as foreign aid legislation. Advocates of global food security should support climate change legislation by indicating so when calling their Congressional leaders to support international aid. Addressing climate change is a very slow and complicated process, but supporting climate change legislation can help protect the food security of many of the Earth’s inhabitants in the long term.

Cavarrio Carter

Sources: Pew Research Center, Huffington Post, phys.org, The Guardian, Mongabay ,The Telegraph, Washington Post, Climate Change and Food Security
Photo: Travel Brochures