Climate Change: Opportunity in Crisis

Admin (Posted on )

By Moshi Israel

For many of us, there is an involuntary aversion to the very idea of having the words ‘crisis’ and ‘opportunity’ in the same sentence. It is hard to fathom how someone can see opportunities within crises.  It is no wonder that the phrase ‘never let a good crisis go to waste,’ has many negative connotations to many people. The same goes for the term ‘Reset’ in relation to several sensitive topics. The idea of an ‘economic reset’, a ‘political reset’, or even a ‘social structure reset’ will have many people up in arms and weaving conspiracy webs so entangled that the truth is often lost in the maze. This is partly because the world is increasingly divided along class lines of haves and have-nots, elites and regulars, rich and poor. This division has created a crowded corridor of ideas moving in different often opposite directions, all looking for the exit. The result is a costly stalemate where nothing is accomplished and no one goes anywhere.

This brings me to my key argument in this opinion. Climate change is a crisis that also presents us with opportunity. The climate change crisis presents us with the opportunity to reset our interaction with the environment by seriously reviewing our current systems and frameworks by altering them and bringing them up to date to eventually create a truly green and healthy planet for ourselves and future generations.

Planet Earth has a long history that scientists have divided into epochs, eons, eras, and ages. My focus here is the epoch timelines. Epochs can last millions of years and are defined by significant changes in rock layers such as mineral composition and the appearance of distinctive fossils. Each variation indicates a major climate change. This planet is about 4.5 billion years old and modern human beings are said to have existed on it for a mere 200, 000 years.

However, many climate scientists indicate that our relatively short existence has had a significant impact on global warming. Earth is believed to have been in the Holocene epoch for the last 11, 500 years which began when the glaciers that covered the earth disappeared at the end of the last ice age. In this epoch, our planet witnessed rapid population growth of humans, and modern civilizations sprung up. We built cities and introduced new technologies to a planet that had a relatively warm and stable climate.

Currently, science seems to show that we have entered the Anthropocene epoch. This is a time when scientists believe that human activity rather than any natural process, is primarily responsible for accelerated global warming. Activities such as Agriculture, deforestation, pollution, and urbanization have caused drastic changes on our planet. The proof for the Anthropocene epoch is still up for debate as scientists search for a ‘golden spike’, a kind of marker in the fossil record which could distinguish the Holocene from the Anthropocene. The marker has to be so remarkable as to be discernible in rock layers thousands or millions of years into the future. Be as it may, others have argued that the Anthropocene phase could have been ushered in by Britain’s industrial revolution and its fossil fuel dependency, others attribute it to the 1950s due to the casting of radioactive elements by nuclear weapons across the globe and others still go further back in time and point the finger at farming.

Even though the debates and historical reflections are important, it is necessary to realize that the climate crisis requires immediate attention, and many people around the globe have no luxury for debates while they face the threat of extinction while standing in line behind many other species that are facing rapid and mass extinction at a rate never seen before.

The first major problem is that climate change is a global hazard that is not limited to national borders. Therefore, malicious practices in one country have major consequences on the lives of people thousands of miles away from that country’s borders. Air pollution in Asia can have profound effects on the air in the Middle East and even further. Dumping plastic waste in the oceans affects not just humans but aquatic life as well. The danger cuts across borders and species. The opportunity here is that the international community gets to work together and is united against a common enemy. The global Sustainable Development Agenda is a good example of this cooperation. This cooperation ranges from technical to financial arrangements where the knowledge of experts and government and private resources are pooled in order to fight the threat of climate change.

In Global South, countries should take advantage of available support from development partners to address climate change. For example, through Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), African countries should use this opportunity and intensify programs meant to address climate change.  This can be achieved by ensuring that resolutions of FOCAC Dakar Action Plan 2022-2024 in which China pledged to support African countries’ efforts in addressing climate change are all implemented.

The climate change crisis has shown that the status quo is weak and does not work. We cannot simply ignore the problem away. Our institutions and systems require radical change. This presents a unique opportunity to ‘reset’ our world into a more liveable place. If anything, the climate crisis has shown us that our current trajectory will lead us to extinction, therefore, we require to make radical reforms in our economic, social, and political systems to address current realities and ensure the continuation of our species.

Using the example of Uganda, which is commonly known as the pearl of Africa for its stunning scenery, extensive flora, and fauna, and diversity of cultures, a keen observer will notice the many negative consequences of climate change. The first thing to notice is the increasingly unstable and unpredictable seasons, reduction in forest cover, and the frequent onset of flooding and famine. All these phenomena and much more are closely related to climate change. Our old methods of farming, fishing, and exploitation of resources are failing us. Therefore, new more modernized farming methods have to be adopted, new technologies need to be learned, and government has to implement effective climate change mitigation measures. This means new education systems that will produce new experts. It also means we can have a new kind of green-oriented economy that will create new competitive sectors and jobs.

It is true that the third world is unfairly affected by both climate change and climate change solutions. This is a challenge that international bodies need to take seriously and find means to address. The stage has been set in recent United Nations Climate Change Conferences to address the challenges in the global south even though progress is still rather slow. Perhaps this entails a detailed discussion for another day.

The Writer is a Research Fellow for Development Watch Center.


Development Watch Centre

Kampala - Uganda


Plot 212, RTG Plaza,3rd Floor, Office Number C7 - Hoima Road, Rubaga


+256 703 380252

© DWC - All rights reserved - Cookies Policy - Privacy Policy