Kenyatta day is here with us.Attention will be riveted on a man who championed the cause of oppressed Kenyans in the hands of colonialists.It is always important to put man in the picture. Leaving the human out of policy discussion is the genesis of many a lopsided priorities.
As the nation celebrates a man who helped fight for its independence, the Green Belt Movement in collaboration with the World Bank is on an aggressive Ksh 150 million campaign to save the remaining ice on Mt Kenya, which has reportedly lost 92 percent of its largest mass of ice in the last 100 years. The Lewis glacier on top of the mountain could disappear in a few years time, it is said.This, according to Frederick Njau of Green Belt Movement, is a result of the rising carbon dioxide concentrations, besides pressure for firewood and charcoal.
Global warming was a point of concern in the recently concluded 4th Afrocities Summit. Africa will suffer more since it relies on agriculture, Peerke be Bakker of UNEP's GEF Division told the Local Government authorities.To add on imminent climate change generated drought and floods, Christian Aid, a UK development agency said that 182 million people in Sub Saharan Africa could die of increasing disease by the end of the century. The summit was told that Lakes Victoria and Chad are already threatened by low water levels and power in Uganda is in limbo as a result of receding water levels.
Since it originated from the Swedish Nobel Laureate Svante Arrhenius, the issue of global warming has for a long time generated debate. Arrhenius contended that if heat trapping gasses such as carbon dioxide increased in the atmosphere, the overall temperature of the earth would rise.
Reputable scientist Kenneth Watt (Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California) theorized that an excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should lead to global cooling, not warming. Watt argued that carbon dioxide would heat tropical oceans, lead to additional evaporation hence widespread clouds that would decrease the amount of sunlight penetrating the atmosphere, consequently leading to cooling.
Other critics of global warming state that temperature measurements are biased as most weather stations are located in urban centers where heat absorbing buildings and pavements can raise readings one to two degrees above the surrounding atmosphere.They observe that although none of the global calamities predicted over the years have come to pass, such predictions continue to survive in the political and NGO arena because they give groups power over human activity.
Science is a discovery process in which hypotheses are advanced, tested through empirical research and data collection, consequently reflecting the findings.Corrupted science does not follow this procedure.It flows from mandated or politically acceptable conclusion back to selected data in order to agree with the mandated or politically correct conclusion."It is a reverse and perverse methodology in which the right answers are known before the right questions are asked," states Roger Bate.
Perverted science is a slave of "public choice" that divides society into voters, politicians,bureaucrats and interest groups.Voters want good governance;politicians want votes;bureaucrats want job security and enlarged budgets while interest groups grapple for income.Politicians, bureaucrats and interest groups have distinct advantage over the voters.
Solar and nuclear power experts, for example, wish climate change was real. Their business would proliferate as fossil fuels are forced to reduce emissions.Green pressure groups would gain funding.Politicians, facing credibility problems at home, would become statesmen in the international arena, in which they are less accountable to their actions. Insurance companies on the other hand would get more clients to insure.
It would do good to stop focussing on Mt. Kenya and start looking at people. Investing 150 million shillings in tree planting instead of investing in human resource, which is able to alter the environment, is putting the cart before the horse. Icing Mt. Kenya while ignoring empty pockets resulting from high taxation, lopsided policies and the security of people who will admire the mountain, is going against the grain.Worrying about ice on Mount Kenya while ignoring the the plight of the low resource farmer in Ukambani, who is yearning for a simple borehole and the hawker who needs business space beats reason.
Human and natural vulnerability to climate change would be reduced by strengthening economic growth. Economically empowered people will have the luxury of worrying over global warming. They will value aesthetics, clean air and prevention of disease rather than treating it. They will invest in technologies that will insure them against the onslaughts of climate and boost immunity to all types of stressors.
As we celebrate Kenyatta Day, let us focus on people first.People are intelligent.People are able to alter the environment, for better or for worse!
By Josephat Juma
Mr. Juma is an African Executive Writer
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