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UN report shows hottest seven years on record

By Caroline Chebet - May 23rd 2022
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A Standard journalist photographs a carcass of a cow that died due to drought at Naudo in Tiaty, Baringo County. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

With temperatures rising by the day in several parts of the country, peculiar events continue to manifest as people seek refuge in cooler and greener places. The past few months have seen livestock increasingly migrating in search of pasture, marking the peak of the dry season characterised by extreme heat waves, drought and famine.

“Earlier this year when drought intensified, we had to take our livestock to neighbouring Uganda in search of pasture. While the cattle were walking along the main tarmacked highway, hooves could come out because it was too hot,” Paul Lotudo, a resident of Tiaty said.

“It was weird to see cattle literally failing to walk because the hooves just drop off as if they were melting off their feet. Not once, or even twice but every day whenever the cattle walked on the hot tarmac, they would leave their hooves behind.” 

For some in Tiaty, having a roof over their heads with extreme temperatures has been unbearable. Many have removed the grass off their roofs to feed livestock dying from drought even as they struggle to get water to hydrate them.

“I removed the grass off the roof to feed goats because it is too hot, anyway. Unfortunately, that goat died of hunger again months later,” Chepartil Akoloris, a resident said.

The latest UN Report on State of Global Climate shows that the past seven years have been the warmest, breaking climate indicators record.

The World Meteorological Organisation’s State of the Global Climate 2021 report also revealed that rise in sea levels had also doubled in the past 30 years, spelling doom for continents like Africa, where floods are already wreaking havoc.

The report comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has sparked an energy crisis in Europe. Already, Europe is looking to Africa to plug its gas shortage.

“For Africa, the climate crisis caused by fossil fuels has been a source of untold suffering. It’s to their shame for Europe to even consider making Africa its go-to for oil and gas supplies due to the Ukraine conflict, instead of leading the way out of this mess. “We must heed the science and ban fossil fuels. Investment should be in renewables, which are in plenty and affordable,” Mr Mohamed Adow, the Power Shift Africa Director, told Planet Action.

Fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions, the report notes, decreased by approximately 5.6 per cent in 2020 due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But experts say the fossil fuel industry is adamant about making profits at the expense of humanity. “Banning fossil fuels is nonnegotiable. To keep fossil fuels alive is to fan a deadly flame that will consume us, by ruining our future as well as our children’s,” Mr Adow added.

The report provided an update on the annual state of the climate observed in the year 2021, and shows continued trends in terms of key indicators, including concentrations of greenhouse gases, global annual mean surface temperature, global mean sea level, ocean heat content, ocean acidification, sea-ice extent and changes in the mass of the ice sheets and glaciers.

While the key indicators show that climate continues to change, information on socioeconomic impacts highlights the vulnerability of populations to current weather and climate events.

Although the report reveals that the increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from 2019 to 2020 was slightly lower than that observed from 2018 to 2019, it was higher than the average annual growth rate over the last decade.

The rise in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to the warming of the atmosphere and ocean. Warming of the ocean in turn leads to rising sea levels, which results in the melting of ice on land in response to increasing atmospheric temperatures.

This, the report explains, builds a consistent picture of a warming world that touches all parts of the Earth system.

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