With all the noise and chaos around you, it may be easy to forget that the world is still burning. The issue of global warming and climate change is immaterial to say the least.
You have heard of climate change and maybe you care. Sadly, it is immaterial under the circumstance. My take on it has always been that environmentalists are fighting a losing battle. A battle worth the fight. But a losing one nonetheless.
This attitude of mine derives not from a cynical or nihilistic interpretation of the fate of mankind, rather a sober reflection on our history to this point.
For decades, global leaders have been acutely aware of the catastrophe at hand. Yet, here we are. Some improvements have certainly been made, awareness has spread – thanks in no small part to a certain teenager, Thunberg, but the crisis is far greater than our collective efforts to try stem the tide have been.
On the domestic side, the Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) recently issued a warning over rising temperatures caused by overhead sun and droughts around the country. This will see a steady increase in temperatures from region to region.
The scarcity of water will likely lead to power cuts – more of them, water-borne diseases, low farm yields, as well as increased tensions between the state, pastoralists and farmers. December, 2021 and January, 2022 will see lighter rain than usual.
So what do we do with all this information?
It might seem appealing to sit and wallow in our predicament, or even enticing to ignore the severity of it all.
That being said, a thought had popped in my mind. Why not use the knowledge at our disposal as a learning curve? Not to alter or modify our behavior in addressing the issue of climate change. Rather, as a helpful tool to guide you through the perilous days ahead.
Sure the globe is warming, that should not stop you from having fun with it. Now before we dive into some the DO’s and DON’T’s for a rapidly changing climate, let’s have a stroll through memory lane.
How it started
Our journey down this path begins with British inventor Thomas Newcomen’s design of the first widely used steam engine in 1712, creating the first practical fuel-burning engine. The global population at the time was less than one billion.
Over the centuries, as humans increased in numbers, so too did the damage to our planet. Rapid industrialisation resulted in large scale carbon emissions from fossil-fuel-burning industries, eventually surpassing one billion tonnes per year in 1927.
By the 1930s, the human population had reached two billion. We had more than doubled our population within two hundred years, with our carbon footprint widening and cementing itself as a constant peripheral concern.
When it became alarming
By the late 1950s, researchers and scientists around the world had a firmer understanding of rising carbon dioxide concentrations, with experiments in Hawaii and Antarctica providing the proof necessary.
By 1960, our global population reached three billion. By this point, it becomes clear that human beings were taking up more and more space on this planet while simultaneously contributing in abundance to the deterioration of its climate.
More pressing matters on our hands
Perhaps the 60s could have been the decade for demonstrable climate action that moved beyond rhetoric, but unfortunately, there were more tangible problems to deal with. This decade saw the liberation of African nations, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nuclear Arms Race, the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, the fight for justice and equality for blacks in the United States, the assassination of JFK, the Vietnam War and so much more.
To say the 1960s were chaotic would be the understatement of the year. It is crucial to note though, that human turmoil has persisted throughout our history.
There has never been a unifying global mission – one that requires unanimous consent in its recognition and a pledge to address the problem with serious resolve.
So, in a way, we remained true to our nature. We prioritised our immediate interests over those of future generations. Perhaps this is understandable and maybe even expected, but it does leave a sour taste.
1975 saw the human population exceed four billion – now this is where it gets good. Or at least, by this time, we either had to take drastic measures to save a path for recourse, or ultimately drop the issue of climate change from our dialogue entirely because…what’s the point?
When we first heard global warming
The term ‘global warming’ was coined that very year by US scientist Wallace Broecker, who educated the general public on the looming threat. Broecker’s paper was titled, “Climatic Change: Are we on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” Mind you, this was 46 years ago. So you tell me; if 1975 had us ‘on the brink,’ what would 2022 have for us?
Moving on with this ticking timeline bomb, 1987 then saw us reach five billion in number, as well as sign the Montreal Protocol – theoretically restricting chemicals that damaged the ozone layer. This, however, did not prevent carbon emissions as a consequence of fossil fuel burning to surpass six billion tonnes per year by 1989.
The following year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that over the previous century, humanity’s emissions were adding to the natural complement of greenhouse gasses within the atmosphere – and that this had a direct link to global warming.
Of course, much like smoking, the industries responsible for the negative effects commenced with profuse denial before evolving to tacit acknowledgement.
The truth is that major oil and gas companies of the world have been aware of the disastrous impact their emissions have on our planet.
How we deal with it
Those that have been held accountable have calculated that begging for forgiveness is more efficient than asking for permission. In their cases, this means that paying a small fine, one that resembles a slap on the wrist, is more profitable that enacting fundamental change.
Natural gas, coal, oil and other fossil fuels account for more than 80 percent of the world’s energy – burning those fossil fuels leads to 89 percent of human carbon dioxide emissions. Statistics can be fascinating.
The United States Military alone has a larger carbon footprint than 140 countries combined. For context, there are 195 countries in the world.
So, what does that mean?
Essentially, this means that for all the huffing and puffing these global leaders do on this topic of climate change, their monetary incentives are skewed and nothing that you as an individual can do will help quell the threat of an ever-shifting climate. Change has to manifest itself from the top.
For all the summits and conferences that the elites of the world partake in, remind yourself that those in those very rooms and conference halls are most liable for the damage to this planet.
And that no amount of condescension about which car is more carbon neutral and what your role should be in fighting global warming should distract you from the facts of the case.
So there you have it – a timeline that spreads from the invention of the first steam engine to 1990, when we were all more than aware of the emergence of climate change. In the more than three decades since then, it has been five steps forward, ten steps back.
So worry not about your planet or climate, you just concern yourself on how you’ll capitalise on rising sea levels and unbearable heat.
For those of us that reside in Tanzania, the heat keeps getting more unbearable by the day and we are left to wonder how to cope.
Here are a few ideas for what you could do and avoid in extreme heat.
Do take the time to exercise:
This I say from experience. Want to lose weight? Well, the scorching sun is here to help out.
In this Dar es Salaam heat and humidity, I find myself sweating in the shower. I sweat when I brush my teeth and I only ever put on my shirt for the day when I’m about to leave the house.
It feels personal at this point. Then I realised that working out under such conditions works wonders for the brave ones.
Don’t be afraid to dress for the occasion: Accessorize and flaunt what you’ve got. Find yourself some light-weight material clothing and loose clothing that doesn’t restrict breathing room for your skin or overall movement.
Use natural fibre fabrics; cotton, linen and silk work best in absorbing sweat and allow the skin to breath. Synthetic fibres retain heat and poorly absorb sweat, increasing your body temperature.
Do get wet:
Now this one can come in many forms and does not discriminate based on gender, race or class. Have a pool party. Too broke? Well, where’s the closest river?
If you’re industrious and have an afternoon to kill, fill a bucket with water, get some soap and go clean some cars. You could make a pretty penny from it.
The little ones will appreciate the fun and joy that comes with playing in the water and allow them to get as creative as they can with water games.
Don’t forget our beaches: Just take your pick and make a day of it. Or if your friends are up for it, why not take a scenic road trip to Lake Nyasa? Rent a cabin for the weekend, some wine by the sand. I might just book my trip now.
Don’t wear leather: Once more, I speak from experience. This heat is only bound to get worse, don’t torture yourself in leather as I do on a daily basis. You will always look stressed.
Do wear leather. Be bold like me. Push through the pain.
Don’t withhold your true self from anyone: During the Cold War, it was not uncommon to use the excuse of ‘the world could explode’ to further any narrative.
Especially when courting and dating. Tell your family you love them, tell your crush how you feel. Tell your bully to back off.
Tell your kids you’re proud of them. Tell your friends they make you happy. Because, well…The world could explode.
Written by Mahatma Ulimwengu