Greta Thunberg: A Proverbial Message for Africa

She is 16, she is female, she is unusual, and she has a strong message for the world and a proverbial message for Africa.

On the 28th of August 2019, Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager arrived in New York. It was a historical journey that had taken her 14 days. Why?

It was a carbon-free journey! The climate and environmental activist cum student had opted to make the transatlantic journey carbon-free by sailing on the Malizia II, a 60-foot (18-meter) yacht featuring solar panels and electricity-producing underwater turbines.

School strike for for climate
Stockholm School Strike for Climate Photo Credit: Instagram – @Gretathunberg

Perhaps the most attention-grabbing in her recent attempts to make the world stop and see her point, Greta’s carbon-free trip to New York is no way the greatest feat in her relentless attempts to raise global awareness of the risks posed by climate change.

In August 2018, two months before California’s deadliest and most destructive Hurricane and a month before Sweden’s hottest summer in 262 years, Thunberg at the age of 15 took time off school to demonstrate boldly outside the Swedish parliament holding up a sign calling for bold climate action.

Her reasons were fathomable: the adults ‘shit on’ the future of billions of children like Thunberg, yet the political class have refused to act to save the world from doomsday that regressive climatic conditions forebode.

Expectedly, the same political class that has been at best stupefied or dismayed or both by a teenagers impetus for change, have launched increasing attacks on Thunberg’s personality. Their contemptible scheme sadly met with failure long before it regrettable birth.

Fridays for future images
Climate Strike in Berlin Photo Credit: Instagram – @GretaThunberg

It’s too late to cry now; the seemingly futile crusades by the voiceless have been embraced by far too many browbeaten to be ignored. Or didn’t someone once say, ‘never underestimate the power of fools in great numbers?’ These children protesters aren’t fools but the complacent adults are yet to prove themselves otherwise.

If Greta Thunberg is raising an alarm that the crisis caused by global warming is so serious that humanity is facing an existential crisis, who should listen?

Teenager goes on a school strike
Photo Credit: Instagram – GretaThunberg

If she is especially concerned about the impact the climate crisis will have on young people like her, who should heed the warning?

If Thunberg’s message is that we need to wake up and change because very little is being done to solve the problem of climate change and global warming, who should buckle their shoes and start doing something, anything?

Africa as a continent including the most populous African nation, Nigeria is said to account for 3.8 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emission which causes global warming.

Topping the list among the most polluting countries in the World are China (with about 23 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions), United States (with about 19%) and the European Union.

Yes, Africa may not be in the front roll among the most polluting nations in the world, but the distasteful truth is that Africa is historically vulnerable and as such will suffer more – and is already suffering – abysmally the catastrophic consequences of climate change and global warming.

To exemplify, although the problem of food insecurity has become a global menace in the last two decades, it is more pronounced in less developed countries and sub-Saharan Africa is among the most hit.

The causes of food insecurity in Africa is traced partly to worsening climate change and increasing global warming which has resulted in irregular patterns of rainfall; excessive rainfalls, acid rains or droughts among many other terrible effects.

Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa are agrarian and most of their population are rural dwellers who depend on agriculture for their livelihood. In fact, small scale farmers make up about 80% of Africa agriculture producing staple food.

When climate change and global warming begin to affect agricultural outputs in Africa beyond the already alarming present rate, then the continent should be ready for a new kind of war – unprecedented hunger!

The low-lying nature of Nigeria’s 800kms coastline from Lagos to Calabar, for example, makes them susceptible to climate change. It is disposed to seawater intrusion into coastal freshwater resources and consequently, inland fisheries and aquaculture are negatively affected.

As if these were not enough, in many places in Nigeria, there is a high frequency of coastal erosion and flooding both, climate change-induced forms of land degradation.

These conditions increasing epidemics of water-borne diseases commonly experienced in the South of Nigeria such as cholera and typhoid fever. These diseases and other related ailments claim millions of lives in Nigeria and Africa as a whole annually.

If climate change hits an all-time peak, then Africa better gets ready for Armageddon!

Across the continent of Africa, the debilitating effects of climate change and global warming continues to skyrocket one place after another as the atmosphere continues to deteriorate. This portends doom for a continent that is already bedevilled by poor leadership and matchless poverty among other evils.

Africa cannot afford to combat this climate meltdown when it eventually hits its worst. We only have now to change our lot for better and needed action must be taken.

If Greta Thunberg’s outcry against climate change and those of the increasing concerned school kids who participate in the ‘Friday for Future’ protests are not taken very seriously; if the adults don’t start to act to save our world from extinction, if governments and authorities don’t start implementing the right policies, the world might just be the next historical Sodom and Africa, the next Gomorrah!


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