Unpredictable climate changes

Climate change is one of the most critical global challenges of our time. Recent events have emphatically demonstrated our growing vulnerability to climate change.

Climate change is one of the most critical global challenges of our time. Recent events have emphatically demonstrated our growing vulnerability to climate change.

Climate change impacts range from affecting agriculture to endangering food security, sea-level rise and the accelerated erosion of coastal zones, increasing intensity of natural disasters, species destruction and the spread of vector-borne diseases.

Climate change refers to the variation in the Earth’s global climate or in regional climates in a given time. It describes changes in the unpredictability or average state of the atmosphere in the particular time scales ranging from decades of years.

These changes can be caused by processes internal to the Earth or external forces like differences in sunlight intensity and some reports indicate human activities.

In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, the term climate change often refers to changes in modern climate which according to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are 90-95% likely to have been in part caused by human action.

Human activities that have caused climate change include tree cutting, over grazing, and unprofessional farming. One of the recommended ways of preserving the world’s climate in all nations is tree planting and gets forestry around human race.

“Any space where there is no house or road we want to plant there a tree” the slogan of Rwanda Red Cross goes.

A 52 year old Rwanda Red Cross Head of programmes, Marrie Antoinette Uwimana says she has been protecting environment almost a half of her life.

Driving with her at her home Kabeza the flowers, trees and Jar of little tree plants around her house will definitely speak for her that Uwimana takes environment protection as one of her priority in life.

“Everybody at home knows that I love nature, I like protecting environment, and children at home always warns each other for any abuse towards environment because of how I always become strict and tough on any abuse against environment,” Uwimana said.

“When weather changes I start to worry, when rain comes I don’t relax until I get news that no calamity has been reported, environment protection became part of me for over years,” added Uwimana.

Even though Uwimana says it is difficult to be environment friendly, she says it is a call for everybody and a need for determination if nations have to save the next generation.

“I was invited in the disaster preparedness conference in Nairobi and I was surprised to see that I was the only woman attending the conference, that shows you how less attention is given to environment protection because it is difficult but one has to accept to live with it other wise we may end up with catastrophes around us all times,” said Uwimana.

Uwimana who started working with Rwanda Red Cross at the age of 25 years in 1980 has been dealing with disaster management since 1999 which raised her passion to environment protection.

At Rwanda Red Cross, Uwimana encouraged environment protection in the department of disaster management coming up with risk reduction activity like planting trees. It is that idea that resulted to preparation of nursery beds in 15 districts to facilitate tree planting.

Places like Gicumbi in the Northern Province where landslide claim at least one person every year, if risk reduction strategy is not applied many lives could be lost, Uwimana says.

She says environment risk reduction can also help in prevention of life claims of natural disasters like Landslides and floods among others giving an example of Nyabihu and Rubavu landslide that also caused floods and claimed 18 people.

Uwimana also warns that places like Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe, Nyamasheke and Rusizi and Bugesera may also fall the victim of the circumstances if risk reduction is not done.

To be successful, Uwimana says it also needs to work closely with local authority to identify which types of trees needed and which places to plant trees.

Where many trees have been planted and have lacked followed up, Uwimana says some volunteers in districts are trained by Rwanda Red Cross to make follow ups on planted trees.

Several Rwanda Red Cross employees recently walked to the nearby swamp near their headquarters to plant trees more than 1500 in 32 square kilometers.

“We are planning to plant more than 5000 tree around our headquarters a lone and then other numberless else in all districts,” Frank Cyubahiro the officer in charge of food security at Rwanda Red Cross who led the employees in a planting trees session said.

In that particular planting trees session, Cyubahiro said Rwanda Red Cross had planted six types of trees including Cederella, Terminalia, Filao for timbers, Caliandra and Leceina tree for fruits/nutrition, and Nim tree also known as medicine tree.

Cyubahiro says Nim trees’ lungful of air expels mosquitoes to prevent malaria at home surroundings. Rwanda Red Cross had also planted Kikuyu grass to fight soil erosion.

Rwanda Red Cross is one of the few institutions in Rwanda that are environmental sensitive. Jean Bosco Nkusi Head of disaster management department says Rwanda Red Cross plans to have 30,000 trees planted in every district.

Recently, the giant mobile phone network provider MTN signed a check of million francs for environmental protection facilitated tree planting in various districts in its program of social responsibility.

This has been an out cry from the ministry of land, waters, mines and environment to reduce human activities or abuse of environment in Rwanda. Anthropogenic factors are acts by humans that change the environment and influence climate.

Various theories of human induced climate change have been debated for many years. The biggest factor of present concern is the increase in CO2 levels due to emissions from fossil fuel combustion, followed by aerosols (particulate matter in the atmosphere) which exert a cooling effect and cement manufacture.

Other factors, including land use, ozone depletion, animal agriculture and deforestation also affect climate. On the other hand, scholars have said climate the average state of weather is fairly stable and predictable.

Climate includes the average temperature, amount of rainfall, days of sunlight, and other variables that might be measured at any given site. Current studies indicate that radiative forcing by greenhouse gases is the primary cause of global warming.

Global warming refers to the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation.

According to these studies, the greenhouse effect, which is the warming produced as greenhouse gases trap heat, plays a key role in regulating Earth’s temperature. The global average air temperature near the Earth’s surface is said to have rose during the last 100 years.

The globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century are very likely to increase due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations via the greenhouse effect according to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Natural phenomena such as solar variation combined with volcanoes probably had a small warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950 and a small cooling effect from 1950 onward.

Over the last 600 million years, carbon dioxide concentrations have varied from perhaps over 5000 ppm to less than 200 ppm, due primarily to the effect of geological processes and biological innovations.

During the modern era, the naturally rising carbon dioxide levels are implicated as the primary cause of global warming since 1950.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 in 2005 was 379ppm³ compared to the pre-industrial levels of 280ppm³.

These basic conclusions have been endorsed by at least 30 scientific societies and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries.

While individual scientists have voiced disagreement with some of the main conclusions of the IPCC, the overwhelming majority of scientists working on climate change are in agreement with them.

Climate model projections summarized by the IPCC indicate that average global surface temperature will likely rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) during the 21st century.

The range of values results from the use of differing scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions as well as models with differing climate sensitivity.

Increasing global temperatures will cause sea level to rise, and is expected to increase the intensity of extreme weather events and to change the amount and pattern of rainfall.

Other effects of global warming include changes in agricultural yields, glacier retreat, species extinction, and increases in the ranges of disease vectors.

Some scientific uncertainties include the amount of warming expected in the future, and how warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe.

There is also ongoing political and public debate worldwide regarding what, if any, action should be taken to reduce or reverse future warming or to adapt to its expected consequences.

Most national governments have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The greenhouse effect was discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1824 and was first investigated quantitatively by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.

It is the process by which absorption and emission of infrared radiation by atmospheric gases warms a planet’s atmosphere and surface.

Existence of the greenhouse effect as such is not disputed. Naturally occurring greenhouse gases have a mean warming effect of about 33 °C (59 °F), without which Earth would be uninhabitable.

On Earth, the major greenhouse gases are water vapor, which causes about 36–70% of the greenhouse effect (not including clouds); carbon dioxide (CO2), which causes 9–26%; methane (CH4), which causes 4–9%; and ozone, which causes 3–7%.

Some other naturally occurring gases contribute very small fractions of the greenhouse effect; one of these, nitrous oxide (N2O), is increasing in concentration owing to human activity such as agriculture.

The atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and methane (CH4) have increased by 31% and 149% respectively above pre-industrial levels since 1750.

These levels are considerably higher than at any time during the last 650,000 years, the period for which reliable data has been extracted from ice cores.

From less direct geological evidence is believed that CO2 values this high were last attained 20 million years ago.

Fossil fuel burning has produced about three-quarters of the increase in CO2 from human activity over the past 20 years.

Most of the rest is due to land-use change, in particular deforestation where all nations must stand and stop including Rwanda.

E-mail: mutarae@yahoo.com

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