By Masereka Charles Yoronimu
Every start of the New Year, people make resolutions on what they wish to do and accomplish in the year ahead. Most of the resolutions are basically for individual enrichment and to some few, for charity.
These are so important for they help guide us strive towards achievement and we try by all means to work tooth and nail to achieve all our resolutions.
There is however one aspect of life we forget to make part of our resolutions, “giving back to nature”.
How many of us in their resolutions include planting a tree, buying and using reusable water bottles, adapting to the use of paper bags instead of polythene bags, doing a community clean-up exercise or even do an act that gives back to nature?
The environment has given you fresh air for the last 12 months and just like you thank those who have done good for you in a year, it too deserves an appreciation.
There is a saying that “man reaps what he sows”. How will you enjoy favorable weather and fresh air if you don’t work for it?
2019 has been the hottest year in history, with the month of July taking the record figure of hotness ever experienced globally in human history. The month experienced widespread wildfires especially across the Arctic area, massive iceberg melts experienced especially around the Atlantic Ocean.
UN Secretary General António Guterres is quoted to have told a group of news reporters, “We have always lived through hot summers. But this is not the summer of our youth. This is not your grandfather’s summer,”
Uganda and Africa at large was not spared the wrath of this climate change. The mid-year season saw farmers counting losses after the dry spell took longer than it was expected to.
With most of the farmers depending on rain as the sole source of water, many were taken by surprise when the rains they expected around April-July did not come. Many had planted hoping to reap big on harvest.
Additionally, to the scarcity of rain, hunger hit the country hard, with food prices skyrocketing beyond normal.
In March 2019, Cyclone Idai ravaged southeastern Africa in the “worst extreme weather event to occur in that particular year,” according to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
The catastrophe did not only hit parts of central Mozambique, but spread further to neighboring countries of Malawi and Zimbabwe, leaving over 2.8 million people affected, with more than 500 people killed and over 1,000 more injured from falling trees and debris.
Hundreds of thousands more were displaced and left in unfavorable living conditions, food and water shortages and poor hygiene.
Uganda was late last year hit by floods and landslides that affected parts of Eastern and Western regions. The Central and Northern regions too were not spared by the floods.
Scores lost lives, plantations and property worth millions were destroyed, displacements and a reduction in economic activities across the affected areas. The road network was destroyed and wide spread diseases due to lack of clean drinking water is up to today still being witnessed.
Australia had a terrible festive season after wild fires devastated parts of the South-east. Millions of flora and fauna have been lost to the ravaging fires.
Human lives too have been lost to the bush fires. There are fears that restoration of the destroyed forests and property destroyed in the fires may take years to achieve.
With all these happenings, we cannot afford to sit back and watch as nature is getting eaten away by climate changes. 2020 is a new year that is creating opportunities for climate action. These are opportunities we need to use to do or influence climate action.
To the politicians, it is time for you to prove to us the electorate that you do value our lives than the votes you are looking for. It would be prudent for your manifestos to have climate action as part of your key priorities.
Can we have more climate action festivities than funfair festivities, can we do more tree planting than tree cutting, and can we have more community cleanups than ever before?
It is time for NEMA, NFA and other environment protection bodies to ACT and bite hard the “big fish” instead of hitting the “small fish” and leaving the big fish to swim freely.
Let the law on polythene bags take effect and punitive action taken against all those that break the law. Let the law on production of plastics take effect. We need to explore alternatives to plastics and polythene bags.
Young or old, the environment needs you and yes, words without action will not breed impact. We can have hundreds of conferences on climate change and action, but with no viable action to influence mitigation and adaptation, we will just worsen the carbon footprint.
The youth have been tipped to be the biggest change markers in the drive to a climate change free world.
In his New Year’s speech, the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said “Climate Change is not only a long term problem but a clear and present danger, and we cannot afford to be the generation that fiddled while the planet burned”.
In the same message, he termed the youth as “The greatest source of hope”. Let us be that hope and create a better future for our generation.
Let us allow the youth to drive climate action, let us create for them avenues to express freely their dissatisfaction with the way the environment is getting destroyed, let us fund their activities and most especially, let us support their campaigns.
Achieving the target of the 2016 Paris Agreement requires a combined effort and as we push the drive to AGENDA2030, let us make 2020 the year for Climate Action, let us all be ambassadors of Climate Action. There is no more time to wait to ACT, it is NOW.
The writer is a youth leader, farmer and climate activist