An Uncertain Harvest

Increasingly volatile weather patterns around the world are already causing supermarket prices to rise. But when it comes to global warming and the food supply, the real losers will be those in developing countries. A look at how one corner of Africa is coping.

By Jocelyn Craugh Zuckerman

The night the dykes blew, Calimentina Anyango and her family grabbed what they could and ran for higher ground. For the next three days, the rain pounded down. There was nowhere to hide, nothing to eat. The babies cried till exhaustion gave way to sleep. And when the clouds finally cleared, what was left of the family’s ravaged mud home sat in plain view across a decimated field of cassava—a lonely reminder of what little they’d once called their own.

Six weeks later, Anyango and her three sons, three daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren are still sleeping on the skinny ridge in western Kenya that they fled to on that night. Among some 10,000 people who were driven from their homes by the unprecedented downpours that began here in the Busia District, on the border of Uganda, in late November and continued into the New Year, they now take shelter in tents donated by Doctors Without Borders. And every week, one of them makes the three-mile trek to a health-care center where World Vision and the Red Cross distribute sacks of high-energy Unimix. But they have nothing else: no water for drinking, no charcoal or kerosene for cooking, no blankets, no shoes. They have no crops to harvest and no fields worthy of tilling. And though they are surrounded by stagnant pools of water, they have neither mosquito nets nor anti-malarial medication.

“Especially we need food,” says daughter-in-law Jenna, cradling her 14-month-old son Abraham. Another of Anyango’s grandchildren, James, slumps listlessly in his young mother’s arms. “He’s three months old?” I ask. “One year,” she corrects me.

Anyango expects her family will be here on the ridge for another four or five months, when, she’s hopeful, the ground will have dried up enough to enable rebuilding and replanting. As for the threat of future floods now that the dykes are gone, she doesn’t have the luxury of worrying about that. “We will just go back,” she says of the family’s sodden compound. “We don’t have anywhere else to go. And we don’t have any money.”

“This is the new life,” says John Okello, a local who also fled his home and who now volunteers at another of the seven makeshift relief camps established here in the aftermath of the floods. “We have not experienced anything like it before.”

This past November, in a speech he delivered to the 6,000 delegates gathered in Nairobi for the 2006 United Nations Climate Change Conference, former secretary-general Kofi Annan placed the blame for global warming on “a frightening lack of leadership” and said that it would be developing countries, especially those in tropical regions, that would bear the brunt of rising temperatures. “The impact of climate change will fall disproportionately on the world’s poorest countries, many of them here in Africa,” he said. “Poor people already live on the front lines of pollution, disaster, and the degradation of resources and the land. For them, adaptation is a matter of sheer survival.”

If anyone still harbored doubts about whether human-driven global warming is a real phenomenon, the February report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change likely put an end to them. “February 2nd will be remembered as the date when uncertainty was removed as to whether humans had anything to do with climate change on this planet,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), which administers the panel. “The evidence is on the table.”

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There are of course alternative views to the one you have propounded above.
One of these is that of a specifically Christian/Biblical world view - you are therefore welcome to read (via Word document, or as a published booklet)
"Global Warming & Climate Change - A Christian Perspective"
Do contact me on e mail address above for details.

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