By Oswald Hanciles
“(Climate Change)….is one of the most…serious issues….which world leaders must attack…without wasting any much further time…Time is of the essence…! You have seen so many cases of extreme weather patterns…which have been striking all around the world… It happened right in the middle of New York…Climate Change is happening much more faster…. than one would expect…. Climate Change is happening because of human behaviour….And If it is happening because of us, then it is us …we, the human beings, who … must correct it….We have only one earth,…Some people…who do not support this…. may think we have Planet Earth B ….No…..We have only one planet earth…Therefore, there is no Plan B …We have only … Plan A…..We need political leadership … That is why I am convening on September 23rd of this year…in the United Nations….World Leaders Climate Change Summit Meeting…”
– Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, Freetown
When the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, stood next to the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma, during a joint press conference about a week ago at State House, Freetown, I absolutely comment here that the above-quoted response to the question by “veteran” journalist, Clarence Roy-Macaulay (Associated Press), on “Climate Change”, was the most thought-inducing one. For feisty-politically-partisan-and-polarized Sierra Leoneans, the mention of the two words “Plan B” would evoke derisive thoughts of the lurking threat in the words of “veteran” politician, Charles Margai, about two years ago – about a “Plan B” to outwit the governing APC government. What our 11 years civil war should have taught us in Sierra Leone is that there is really NO ‘Plan B’ for Sierra Leone – we either sail together, or, sink together. But, then, even if we follow the elixir-sounding prescription of Ban Ki Moon – “Rule of Law”…”Quality Education” – to manage our country as if Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohamed combined were national leaders, ‘Climate Change’ would wreck havoc to our most valiant efforts of good governance; and blight President Koroma’s vision of a “Middle Income Sierra Leone in 35 years”.
‘The ant’s world’ is not ALL of planet earth
For the human race not to collectively address the emerging realities of ‘Climate Change’ would be like this: an ant is luxuriating on a slice of bread with butter and jam, nibbling away; the bread is inside the captain’s cabin of a huge passenger ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean carrying over a thousand passengers; the ant ‘thinks’: “ I will protect this wealth with all the weapons at my command!”; but, unbeknown to the ant, others are setting fire to parts of the ship, others are boring deep holes on the sides the ship, causing the ship to dangerously bend; and, if they are not stopped, the ship would sink to the bottom of the ocean, and no matter how much the ant tries to defend its ‘slice of bread world’, it would die like the rest of the passengers on the ship. The biggest and most powerful of all nations – the U.S., Russia, UK, Japan, China, Germany, etc. – are like that ant. As well as tiny nations like the Gambia, Benin, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, etc.
Climate Change is the ‘Truly First World War’
All the biggest wars mankind has ever fought would pale in comparison to the ongoing ‘Climate Change war’. The Second World War was ferociously fought in Europe, North Africa and Asia. It ended with the dropping of the hydrogen bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945. It gave humanity a glimpse of man-created Armageddon. It was not, in essence, a ‘world war’ – large swathes of the planet in South America, Africa, and North Atlantic were largely untouched by it. Climate Change is essentially ‘The First World War’. Wars have to have ‘enemies’ and ‘friends’. The ‘enemy’…? The ‘enemy’ in this ‘Truly First World War’ is frightfully amorphous.
The Allied Powers in Europe during the so-called ‘Second World War’ knew who the enemies were – Adolf Hitler’s rampaging Nazi war machine; the megalomaniac Benito Mussolini of Italy, and ‘emperor-god’ of Japan who inspired kamikaze warriors not afraid to die for the Fatherland. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela had little trouble in pigeon-holing the enemy – white racism against blacks in the US and South Africa. In this ‘Climate Change war’ who are the ‘enemy’?
If we have trouble identifying the enemy, we do know that the ‘enemy’ is winning most of the battles for now. Climate Change means that average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The rate of warming is increasing. The 20th century’s last two decades were the hottest in 400 years. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that 11 of the past 12 years are among the dozen warmest since 1850. What would these scientific facts mean?
The effects of Climate Change Third World War
Sea level could rise between 7 and 23 inches (18 to 59 centimeters) by century’s end, according to IPCC’s February 2007 report. Rises of just 4 inches (10 centimeters) could flood many South Seas islands and swamp large parts of Southeast Asia. Glaciers around the world could melt, causing sea levels to rise while creating water shortages in regions dependent on runoff for fresh water. Let me kindle your imagination: Bonthe and parts of Shenge in Sierra Leone could go under water; the huge investments in tourism on the idyllic beachfronts in Freetown could be lost forever; Monrovia, and most of the billions of dollars of investment in Lagos city, would be devastated irreparably.
Strong hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and other natural disasters may become commonplace in many parts of the world as Climate Change gains momentum. The growth of deserts may also cause food shortages in many places. The fragile economies and political systems of Africa, the dearth of scientific and technological know-how, would NOT be able to withstand the ‘enemy’s onslaught’ – and food relief could not come from China or US, as they could be faced with food emergencies themselves. Who is this ‘enemy’ plotting to wreck havoc on humanity much more cold bloodedly than Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Osama Bin Laden, Adolf Hitler….all combined?
Aha!! ‘The Enemy’ – for Africa, at least
The March, 2013 edition of African Business magazine, titled ‘WHO SHOULD PAY FOR CLIMATE DAMAGE’, helps to narrow down the ‘enemy’ – at least, as far as Africa is concerned: “Do not be misled by the neutral sounding ‘climate change’ label. It has been proved beyond doubt that human activities, particularly from the heavily industrialized North and Asia, have messed up the earth’s climate patterns to such an extent that the future for many people is nothing sort of catastrophic (!!). Damage from climate change…. affects every person on the continent and has direct bearing on your income, your health, your quality of life and in some cases, your very existence….”
Bahijahtu Abubakarr, head of Nigeria’s Renewable Energy Programme, referring to Africa’s 3% -5% emission rate, is indignant: “We did not create the problem…..Nor are we being provided with remotely close to what is needed to tackle it – financial and otherwise…”
Climate Change should stimulate a paradigm shift in global international relations. But, no! The perception of the richest nations that Africa is beggarly…festers. Calculations by ecological economists at institutions like University of California, Berkeley in 2010, based on just six categories – greenhouse gas emissions; agriculture; exploitation of fisheries; deforestation; ozone layer depletion; and conversion of mangrove swamps – show that ‘rich’ nations owe poor nations over $2.3trillion. The estimates were described as conservative by the authors because they exclude categories such as freshwater depletion, loss of biodiversity, etc. Under the (Climate Change) Cancun agreement, developed countries ‘agreed’ to provide USD 30 billion for the finance period 2010 to 2012. Among the billions of climate funds pledged, only a small percentage is reaching Africa. Africa has received about 12 percent of funding for adaptation. Asia – 40%; Latin America – 25%. Again, Africa is the ‘men pikin’, or, poor cousin, being given the leftovers. Belligerent African thinkers are calling for ‘Climate Change reparations…’
To listen to the ‘slave masters’’ intransigence? To do the ‘slave dance’?
Jos Delbeke, the European Union’s (EC) Director-General for Climate Action, deflected the issue. He told African Business, “The concepts of ‘ecological costs’ and ‘ecological debt’ are highly controversial. The concept of ‘North’ versus ‘South’ no longer holds. (We) need a new legally binding global agreement covering all countries – by 2015 at the latest….”. Same patronizing song that Africa’s ‘slave minded’ leadership are expected to dance to.
Ban Ki Moon said in Freetown during the aforementioned press conference last week that he has invited President Koroma to a big Climate Change conference of world leaders in September 2014 – including civil society leaders, women and youth leaders. To do what? Another round of ‘slave masters’’ songs – another frenzied dance by the ‘global slaves’? Slavery!!! For over twenty four years, in Liberia, Nigeria, and here in Sierra Leone, I have developed projects and ideas that link the Protracted Holocaust of the Atlantic Slave Trade to the thought behind today’s Climate Change. This is ‘another story’ really. For now, FORBES’ thousand plus billionaires on the planet, the leaders and managers of trillions of dollars economies…must reflect, and take action on, Ban Ki Moon’s profundity: there is “no Plan B”; humans have caused ‘Climate Change – and, humans can mitigate it … – this mandates and end to ‘us’ versus ‘them’; ‘slave master over slaves’ mentality, rich nations against poor nations….white against blacks….