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Africa is warming fast, and the most vulnerable are being hit hardest

The continent has already seen an increase in heatwaves, hot days and erratic rainfall patterns.
Image: Getty Images

The African continent is warming quickly, and climate change is expected to disproportionally affect every aspect of life there, from human health to food security and economic growth, according to the World Meteorological Organisation’s first-ever State of the Climate in Africa report.

Temperatures in Africa have increased over 1º Celsius compared to the average between 1901 and 2012, and warming in large areas of the continent may exceed 2ºC from pre-industrial times by 2080 to 2100 if emissions continue at their current levels, according to the report released on Monday and coordinated by the WMO.

“We know that climate change impacts we suffer today are consequences of development choices that countries, mainly developed, adopted over the years,” said Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. “Africa is more vulnerable than most and, even if it is the least responsible, it also has the most viable solutions.”

The continent has already seen an increase in heatwaves, hot days and erratic rainfall patterns. Heat and drought are impacting agriculture production, increasing pest damage and disease.  Climate change and climate variability, together with conflicts, instability and economic crises, are listed as key drivers of a recent increase in hunger in Africa.

African nations are already spending between 2% and 9% of their gross domestic product in climate adaptation and mitigation measures, Songwe said during the presentation of the report on Monday. Tropical cyclone Idai, which hit Mozambique in March 2019, slashed the country’s GDP growth that year to 2.3%, compared to the 6.6% forecast before the storm.

Extreme heat, drought and changes in precipitation are trends set to continue over the next few decades as the continent —and the planet— warms. Under the worst-case climate scenario, in which the world warms by 4ºC by the end of the century, African GDP will decline between 7.04% and 12.12%, according to the report. Middle-warming scenarios see GDP falling between 3.3% and 8.28%.

The changing climate is already impacting agriculture production, the backbone of Africa’s economy. In drought-prone sub-Saharan countries, the number of undernourished people has increased by 45.6% since 2012, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Changes in rainfall patterns will also increase the presence of biting insects in new areas, and the transmission of diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever.

Under the worst case climate change scenario, crop mean yields would decline 13% in West and Central Africa, 11% in North Africa, and 8% in East and Southern Africa by 2050. Millet and sorghum would be among the most resilient crops, while rice and wheat are expected to be among the most impacted.

The report highlighted that the lack of data is a challenge when it comes to forecasting climate change impacts and designing measures to counter them. The lack of weather stations means heatwaves are barely being recorded in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a report published in Nature Climate Change in July. Only two heatwaves in sub-Saharan Africa were recorded by the Emergency Events Database in the past 120 years, the study found. That compared to 83 European heatwaves recorded in the past four decades.

Reporting of droughts and floods in Africa has improved over the past few decades, partly because not-for-profit organisations doing relief work on the ground are gathering the data, said Friederike Otto, report author and acting director of the the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute. By comparison, heatwave data is much more sparse at a time when they’re becoming more frequent, more intense and more deadly.

“In poorly-governed countries where you have regime changes and suddenly weather stations are not manned anymore, you have gaps in the records,” Otto said. “That’s a problem because it makes it much harder to quantify and identify changes.”

The early warning systems that are working well to alert people of droughts and floods could be applied to heatwaves, she said.

“The great impact that climate change is posing around the world is that it exacerbates inequality,” Otto said. “It exacerbates the divide between developed and developing nations, but also within a society. The people that die from heat are not those who have air conditioning.”

© 2020 Bloomberg

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More spew from the masters of disinformation: Bloomberg. Climate models predict more polar warming than tropical warming. Africa is mainly in the tropics. It is true that the globe has warmed about 1°C in the last century. However, there is no evidence that CO2 is the culprit. The warming started at the end of the Maunder Minimum circa 1690 centuries before large scale fossil fuel burning began and the trend continues today. One would expect to find the highest temperatures at the end of a long period of warming. One has to admire that gall of these disinformationists. Mocambique has been hit by cyclones for all of recorded history- there is no reason the believe Cyclone Idai is the result of climate change. There is zero evidence that the incidence or intensity of these cyclones has become more intense over time. In fact, the climate models predict the reverse. Weather is the manifestation of the transfer of heat from the low latitude to the poles. If the high latitudes heat more then incidences of extreme weather should be fewer not more. There is no weather on Venus. There is zero evidence that Arica has seen an incidence of increased heatwaves, hot days and erratic rainfall. The author laments the lack of information yet comes up with this porky. This chunder is a combination of fabrication and grandiose speculation: “could bees”, “what ifs”, “models predict”, “worst case scenarios”, “may exceed” etc. Cereal crops globally are currently at record levels, partly due to CO2 levels.

The UN wants to use climate change as a mechanism for governments to cede sovereignty. Before you call be a conspiracy theorist please read the Copenhagen Draft treaty: a blueprint for a world government. The word democracy is not mentioned once but World Bank gets numerous mentions.

Climate change is not a driver for hunger in Africa. The abandonment of the free market in favour of destructive socialist policies, the complete absence of responsible governance and over population is.

Fully agreed, most climate change supporters do not like facts, they just insist to be right in their thinking.

Well said! (especially the last paragraph. This is reality.)

Yes, Richard its all made up – All the terrible fires etc – Been outside lately or enjoying your nice AC office? I was in Switzerland last year – They have started irrigating there mountain peaks and passes to keep it green (so people can take pretty pictures) because of global warming – But sure you know everything.

Absolutely. “Scientific” (yeah, right) Covid19 models predicted a death toll for SA about 15x greater than the actual numbers. The public is at last starting to realize that these “scientific” models are worse at predicting the future than throwing darts.

Go Richardthe Great, go! Plants need CO2 to generate oxygen. When fossil fuels came along some years back, CO2 was @180ppm, almost crytical low level (dysfunctional)for generating oxygen. At present +-@400ppm. Prof Dyson Freeman and William Happer, latter who manufacture CO2 lasers, should know about CO2 properties. Happer suggest we are CO2 starved. See:https://co2coalition.org/co2-fundamentals/. Should one visit the research done by Prof Willie Soon, he clearly demonstrate the effect of the sun’s direct impacting, ocean temperatures and the effect it has on vapor. What about the moon moving away from earth @ 2inches per annum or the weakening of the earth’s magnetic field. There are a lot of intergrated issues to take into consideration regarding the wheather.

Considering the constant scar tactics (Global Warming, Covert-?, etc.) from these egocentric UN bunch would it not be wish to close down their offices and supply them with a large circus tent which would enable them to sell tickets at the entrance for the most entertaining “scary road show of all times”. It would also save us a lot of taxes.

Your last sentence is of course what this scaremongering is all about: extorting ever more taxes from the public by means of ludicrous “scientific” models.

Indeed, governments across the globe LOVE the “climate change” agenda…a lucrative way of charging extra CO2 taxes, levies, penalties to all kinds of industries in their respective countries (which costs compliant corporations have to pass on to global consumers)

What a brilliant scheme.

The climate scam is like a snake feeding on its own tail. So-called scientists depend on government grants for their research. Politicians need scary stories from the scientists, not honesty – “we don’t really know” or “we’re not sure” is not going to work in terms of extorting taxes. So there’s a strong incentive for “scientists” to cook the figures, to give the governments the scary results the governments need to extort ever more taxes. As Climategate and Al Gore’s hockey stick show it, real science and honesty don’t enter into it.

Yes climate change is real and has been happening for millions of years.

No climate change is not caused by human actions and will not be stopped by human actions.

They will say anything to bring this GREAT RESET. The CV19 Scamdemic, climate change.

Our freedoms and rights are quickly been taken from us. The dystopian future is here we have seen in movies is here.

WAKE UP!!!

End of comments.

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