Cop26 and Climate Change: A Challenge for all humankind

The Climate summit
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Cop26--The Climate Change Conference. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Harold Acemah.

Climate change and Global warming will dominate headline news during the month of November because of the deliberations of the United Nations Conference of Parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement (Cop26). The Summit Conference which opened in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1 will discuss daunting problems which threaten our planet and human civilization.

By the time Cop26 Climate Change Conference ends on November 12, I hope the international community will have reached consensus on goals which must be met by 2050 and adopt concrete measures to collectively deal with the problems of Climate change and Global warming which face all countries and all human beings.

As a baby boomer, I have lived long enough to compare and contrast weather conditions of today with what prevailed in the 1950s, 1960s and mid-1970s. In those days weather in Uganda was predictable; it was bright, sunny, cool and comfortable throughout the year. Ugandans took good weather for granted. I came to appreciate Uganda’s beautiful weather when I travelled abroad to places like the Middle East, India, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Canada and USA where it’s either extremely hot and humid or very cold and miserable.

During what my generation fondly calls “the good old days” weather patterns in Uganda were certain and predictable. Most of Uganda, except the shores of Lake Victoria, experienced two dry seasons and two wet or rainy seasons every year. The rain seasons were from March to the beginning of June and from August to the beginning of November, while the dry seasons were June to July and November to February. The long dry season was also the main harvest season.

There was enough rain every year to sustain agriculture in most parts of Uganda. Agriculture in Uganda was primarily rain-fed and Ugandans produced enough food to adequately feed a growing population and grew so-called “cash crops” for export and the domestic market. The main cash crops were coffee, cotton, tobacco and tea. The third stanza of Uganda’s national anthem echoes this pleasant situation as follows: “Oh Uganda! the land that feeds us, by sun and fertile soil grown. For our own dear land, we’ll always stand: The Pearl of Africa’s crown.”

The predictable weather pattern was, however, messed up in 1961, one year before Uganda achieved independence. I remember that extremely wet year vividly because it was the year I was admitted in Senior One at Sir. Samuel Baker School, Gulu which was the best secondary school in the Greater North in the 1960s and 1970s.

The root causes of climate change are fundamentally and primarily man-made and hence human beings have a duty and moral obligation to urgently fix the problem they have caused, the sooner the better for all humankind. Otherwise our species is doomed and heading rapidly towards self-destruction and extinction if appropriate measures are not taken at Cop26 to halt, reverse and solve the problems of climate change and Global warming. It’s a challenge which demands and requires the spirit of multilateralism.

Africa is the number one victim of climate change among the continents of the world. In Uganda’s case, indiscriminate cutting of trees for firewood, timber and to provide land for so-called investors to grow sugar cane, of all things have destroyed the natural environment and caused global warming. Trees absorb carbon which is released into the atmosphere; deforestation is a grave mistake and a negative practice which must be stopped immediately.

Let me remind and warn all and sundry that the earth belongs to God and human beings are only custodians of this beautiful, unique and blue planet. As the psalmist writes: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” (Psalm 24 v 1-2 (NIV).

May the Lord have mercy!

Arua, Uganda

November 2, 2021.  

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