What we hardly speak about is that climate change is a human rights issue of concern. Some environmentalists actually argue that it is “the single most pressing global injustice.”
What is global warming? It is said that over the past few decades, there has been increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, produced by the continued use of fuels, which is formed from the remains of living organisms. These fuels are known as “fossil fuels”, and they include coal and gas. The emissions from burning fossil fuels are harmful to the environment, the air and contribute to problems such as acid rain. They also affect public health.
Coal extraction in various regions is often connected to systems, which has deep links to violence, blood shed and destruction of the environment. There is little corporate accountability and transparency in this field, globally.
Botswana has found herself having to adapt to climate change, for the reason that it is not only vulnerable and therefore susceptible to climate change, but also because it has a semi-arid climate. This vulnerability affects livestock, agriculture as well as the plant and animal life in our national parks and game reserves. It also has an impact on our health. It has caused declines in river flows and heightened temperatures. Botswana has, as a result of global warming as well as other climate changes, suffered extended draughts in the region. This resulted in mass deaths of livestock, low crop production. The country has been advised to develop and transfer technology, finance and education, as well as promote education and public awareness of climate issues.
In the country, the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane, has been said to speak about the need to effectively address the problems of climate change, which has caused grave socio-economic injustices.
In October 2018, amid relative silence on the area, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report. The report stated that the increase in global warming created a serious position in climate negotiation. The report discloses that the increase will affect the planet. Emphasizing that Botswana is a climate change hotspot, the report explains that countries such as Botswana will be even more adversely affected, with most areas damaged as a result. We know that fairly recently, Gaborone Dam had gone dry, leaving parts of our capital city without water. It is also without a doubt that this lack of water affected people in certain communities more adversely than others. We also know that tropical cyclone, Dineo, also in recent years, affected our infrastructure, compromising the lives of some, and resulting in a number of fatalities. These and draught declarations
These are the outcomes of changes in the climate. The changes in the climate have taken place over decades, from the industrialisation. African countries hardly contributed to the damage, which owes its existence to the legacy of the industrial age, which was driven by the global west.
We do, however, find ourselves having to find solutions, as it affects us, to a greater extent than most other, due to our positioning.
Earth Hour, which is commemorated on the last Saturday of March, is an invitation to commit to the planet, spreading awareness on environmental issues in our global and local communities. It calls on individuals, communities and even corporates to turn off their lights for an hour, to show support for the fight against climate change.
What is the point of Earth Day? It is a way of saving energy, for an environmentally conscious people. We use up a lot of energy, and create copious amounts of waste, as a result. It is a call for a cleaner earth, if not for us, then for the generations that will come after us. It’s a small step, but every step towards positive change matters. By switching off your lights for merely an hour, a substantial difference is achieved, which can help reduce the effects of global warming in our society.
This column generally calls government to action on social injustices and on human rights violations. This piece, however, wears a different cap. It is an invitation, beyond global Earth Hour, for Batswana to be more conscious energy consumers. Yes! There are areas in our country where there is still no electricity, and some that have started the use of solar energy.
This is not nearly enough though. We are a nation that is internationally known as a climate change hotspot. So it should be on us, to effect the changes we would want to see in our nation, for the coming generations. It is an invitation, for us to turn off all the things around us that use up electricity, for an hour, perhaps even weekly, even beyond the imposed power cuts, to effect change where we can.