Human Impact to Climate in African Continent

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Updated: Apr 05, 2022
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Humans in the quest for development and survival have consistently caused irreparable damage to the planet. Everything that makes development possible and life worth living is extracted from nature. These consistent activities that is extracting from nature have caused mass extinction of plants and animal species, pollution of water bodies, gradually causing harmful change in the atmosphere, land degradation and other immutable bearings. These happenings are termed as Anthropocene. Simply, the age which human activities have been the major effect on climate and the environment (Monastersky, 2015).

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All forms of lives are interconnected in existence. Just as plants and humans exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide for survival. The extinction of one may lead to the extinction of the other. Major activities such as extraction of minerals from land has gone a long way to destroy land. Most trees have been cut down and destroyed just the land can be excavated for minerals. Here in Ghana, we are facing a major problem of land degradation due to the excessive extraction of gold by illegal miners. This activity known as referred as “Galamsey” is having serious effects on the environment. Simultaneously, causing death since most holes dug are not well covered and also causing water pollution because of the chemicals used to wash these minerals in our rivers after they have been extracted.

The Government of Ghana In 2017, took a major step to stop the prevalent issue of galamsey, since most of our water bodies had become unsafe for drinking and could gradually escalate to Ghana in the future importing water from other countries. Also, these lands that are being turned into mining fields were once farmlands, therefore destroying acres of farmlands just so these activities would be carried on. A major phase of the age of anthropocene I would like to discuss is climate change, the prevalent issue of our age. Most developed countries such as Europe. North America, Japan amongst others are known to be major contributors of green gas emissions due industrial activities (Ziervogel 2008). Advancement in technology and industrialisation has caused emissions of carbon-gases into the atmosphere, Air pollution from smog, all these contributing to climate change (IPCC, 2007). Developing countries are the least contributors to climate change (Ziervogel 2008) but bear its consequences the most mainly because of the vast land lying on warm areas (Fleshman, 2007, Pereira, 2017). This paper looks at the affecting elements of climate change on the African continent.

The temperatures in the region has increased by 0.5 degrees and expected to be 2 degrees by the end of the 21st century (Shepard 2017; Pereira, 2017). Temperatures have been on the increase in the Northern and southern parts Africa in the last two decades (Niang et al., 2014). Countries in east Africa such as Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda have shown similar increase in seasonal mean temperatures over 50 years of observation (Niang et al., 2014). The severity of climate change is been experienced and its future consequences cannot fully and accurately predicted (IPCC, 2007) yet activities of developed countries contributing to climate change is on the increase and Africa simply must adapt.

Rainfall is a significant variable for agriculture in Africa since most of African countries maybe vulnerable to climate change because agricultural systems are largely rain-fed (Pereira 2017). Uncertainties of rainfall patterns because of lack of observational data. Features of Trends of rainfall such as onset, duration and magnitude for Botswana, Zimbabwe, and western south Africa have changed(Niang et. al, 2014) there are indications of drier conditions in south western part of South Africa but wetter conditions in southeast of South Africa during austral summer, although there is a possible delay in the start of the rainfall season during austral spring (Niang, 2014) there is a large uncertainty on rainfall patterns in western Africa and the Sahel because of mixed signal of rainfall increase and decrease in this region (Niang 2014). The Impact of rising temperatures and irregular rainfall patterns;

A case study of a fisherman who’s source of livelihood was from the lake Chad reports how there has been a steady shrinkage of the lake over 30 years and cannot have a bumper harvest as he used to. Scientist and researchers explain the shrinkage to be caused by climatic change in the region. Mainly because of the reduction of rainfall that once kept the lake and other water bodies full (Fleshman, 2007). Water supply is one of the most troubling effects of climate change in Africa. Although some regions may experience increase in rainfall others in the Sahel and semi-arid regions may experience dryness ( Niang et. al, 2014, Fleshman 2007)Decrease or increment in rainfall affecting water supply superficially has impact on Agriculture, social, economic and security of the continent.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on 17 April. “Throughout human history people have fought over natural resources,” he noted. “Changing weather patterns, such as floods and droughts and related economic costs … could risk polarizing society and marginalizing communities,”  thereby increasing the risk of conflict and violence.

African water wars due to increment in temperature, Darfur in western Sudan has been in conflict because of unavailable water. For access of water people of this area must travel distance to get clean water. Thousands of people have lost their lives due to this conflict over water. There are several water wars hotspot in Africa. Typical example being Darfur in Western Sudan, the possible conflict between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over River Nile, and even possible water war between Ghana and Burkina Faso over the Volta Lake.

Africa is an agricultural dominated continent with an average of 70 percent of labour force (UNECA 2009) Most African communities largely depend on agricultural produce and natural resources and prevalent issues of climate change affects elements necessary for agricultural production.(FAO 2007) . Not only drought but increase in acidity of the ocean due to the oceans large absorption of carbon dioxide may gradually cause a significant reduction in fish catch and even quality of fishes especially in West Africa. Cote d’ivoire , Ghana, Liberia Togo are expected to have a decrease in fish harvest due to acid ocean and austere coastal erosion even leading to demographic shift(Shepard, 2007).

Climate change has contributed to the decline in access to arable productive land. The African continent is most vulnerable to climate change because of the already existing issue of rapid population growth leading to settlement on arable productive land. Due to increasing temperatures and inconsistent rainfall, most productive lands may be unsuitable for certain crops therefore rendering these lands useless for production and gradually leading to food insecurity. For example maize which is warm weather crop and grow optimally with mean daily temperatures above 15degrees not exceeding 45degrees (FAO 2016). Unavailable arable productive land due to rising temperatures and inconsistent rainfall, coastal erosion, lack of water supply may lead to forced migration. When places become dry and natural disasters become rampant, survival may become difficult and so people may be forced to move out to find places suitable for their survival which obviously lead to a decline in Agricultural production and cause concentrated population.

Africa would be highly affected because of Africa’s inability to deal with persistent and socio economic inequality. Low levels of development in Africa would make it difficult to deal with the harsh conditions of climate change since climate change adaptation and mitigation involves huge financing (Niang et. al, 2014).

Climate change adaptation is taking the appropriate measures to address the negative effects of climate change (Ziervogel 2015). A significant measure of adaption is for farmers to be able to have access to relevant information they have a better influence on their decisions now which would go a long way to lessen the negative effect of climate change in the future (Ziervogel 2015). Also scientists and research must make relevant climatic information such as rainfall data available to farmers so they could make accurate projections and plan strategically to prevent low productivity due impact of the climate change(Ziervogel 2015).

Though the impact of climate change may not be evenly distributed, that is developed countries are the highest contributors to green gas emissions yet developing countries especially Africa who contribute less than 4 percent to climate change may be most vulnerable to it (IPCC, 2014; Niang et. al 2014), international body must quick to respond to this issue by complying with the Kyoto protocol which mandates countries to reduce green gas emissions.

In conclusion, climate plays a major role in livestock farming. Unavailability of water for animals and conditions such as heat stress may cause difficulty in survival. The prevalent changes due to the effects of climate change wold force people to share water with animals in times of water scarcity. The major impact of climate change will be on agriculture, fisheries and food security across the region and feedback into development, and so undermining any progress that has been made to deal with poverty and inequality. If the world would comply with the proposals of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the harsh conditions of climate change could be slightly mitigated.


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Human Impact To Climate In African Continent. (2022, Apr 05). Retrieved from