By Beatrice Wairimu
The long awaited rains are here with us. Do you wonder why they are taking so long than they used to be a while back? Have you noticed that the rains are more sporadic and intense and sometimes catastrophic causing a lot of destruction than good. There is also drastic increase in temperature, many areas are being affected by floods, droughts and famine are on the rise and still there are diseases like malaria which are affecting people in the highlands which was not always the case. Is the weather changing? Is it predictable as used to be the norm? Is there scarcity of food? We used to have variety of indigenous food, are they readily available today. With all these changes, do you wonder what is happening? Well this is because of climate change.
Climate change occurs when heat trapping gases increases in the atmosphere. The major one is known as carbon dioxide which contributes more than 60% and the others include methane, chloroflorocarbons, nitrous oxide, ozone, water vapour, etc.
No one is exceptional to this, we all contribute to this addition. Every living person do breathe, right, we breathe out carbon dioxide. We use transport every day whether a matatu, bodaboda, buses, train, ship or airplanes which use fossil fuels capable of producing carbon dioxide. When we use chemical fertilizers in our farms, they also contribute to this addition. Felling of trees for construction, producing papers, for firewood, creating more land for agriculture, grazing, logging, we are increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Most of the products we use and consume everyday from bags, shoes, clothes, food, are made in factories which also emit a lot of carbon dioxide in the air. Appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners are also contributors. In turn, the concentration of these gases in the air increases and exceeds the normal amount thus interfering with how nature regulates itself.
They trap some of the heat emitted by the earth which is supposed to escape into space and re-radiates it in all directions thus increasing the near surface temperature and this is termed as the green house effect because it is similar to what happens in a green house.
Most of the actions and activities that lead to climate change are vital for our survival, so how then, can we tackle this issue? Trees offer a great solution to this, they use carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to make food through the process of photosynthesis and give out oxygen, and thus they are great carbon sinks. Planting of trees should be a duty for every one of us, so let’s plant lots and lots of trees to reach the minimum of 10% land cover of forests and even more.
Use of renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind, lifestyle changes and behavior patterns also leads to resource conservation and a low carbon economy. Using alternative mode of transport such as cycling or car sharing as well as sustainable development.
Climate change is here with us. All we can do is to put in place adaptation and mitigation measures because even if we stopped to emit these gases today, it will take very many years before it normalizes.
Beatrice Wairimu is a graduate of Environmental Studies from (the) University of Nairobi. She is interested in Environmental Affairs and would wish to bring the Next Nobel Home. Email: Beatrice.email@example.com