environment :-

Letter from Muhammed Ceesay, Project Manager, Activista/Gambia


letter from muhammed ceesay project manager activistagambia

A lethal product of Capitalism

Final Part

Scientific timelines on global temperatures indicate that, 2020, five years after the Paris Agreement, was one of the warmest years in the annals of global climate history. This should not be surprising, anyway!

Because in the late 1950s, scientists warned that carbon dioxide was building up [in the atmosphere] and that this could be a problem. And by the late 1970s, they knew this accumulation would be catastrophic. Worst enough, between 2015 and 2020, the rate of global deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year ( www.fao.org , n.d). With this, one continues to see the little impact the aforesaid convergences and systems have-Enough scientific studies have revealed that the critical drivers of land use that lead to the rapid loss of land cover and increase in global temperatures due to emission of carbon-dioxide include industrial expansion, real estate development, and timber extraction. All these are pure actions sustaining the business of capitalism. But because positive environmental policies will decrease per capita incomes (Clark, 2006), the 'trade-off' between environmental protection and economic growth remains to be given a blind eye. Thus, the argument that high level of economic growth can ameliorate the very problems it cause remain firm in the views of the gluttony who subscribe to the misconstrued view that the environment is something of a luxury, an issue which can be attended to only when per capita incomes have risen to some target level (ibid).

The catastrophe of "global" plans and commitments is that they are hinged on very ambitious but haphazardly coordinated mechanisms championed by individuals and institutions that do not feel the pangs and pains of the harshest of conditions they purport to address. This deliberate inaction is disproportionately increasing the impacts of environmental destruction and climate change on the "poor and vulnerable" especially in countries in the Global South. The "poor and vulnerable" bear the brunt of increased global temperatures causing skin diseases and rising sea levels affecting food and water systems due to salination of fresh water bodies; and rainfall variabilities causing droughts, and floods; thus, hunger and starvation. A UN Report on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2020 indicated that overall climate-related disaster went up from 3,656 in 1980-1999 to 6,681 in 2000-2019; thus, showing an increase of 83% between the said periods.

Unfortunately, when struck by such disaster and mishaps, they (the poor and vulnerable) resort to such unsustainable and desperate coping and adaptive strategies as asset stripping (the sale of assets such as livestock, houses, household utensils and farming equipment or barter trading for food). In many cases, [poor] households resort to selling livestock but often the prices they realise from the sales largely depend on the level of desperation of that household. This means that households or individuals often get prices below the market value for their livestock (UNDP, 2017). This goes to show that even though the "poor and vulnerable" contribute to the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere and land cover loss by embarking on certain human activities like burning objects releasing carbon-dioxide and felling trees (which they mostly do for survival), they pay more price for the catastrophic events of climate and environmental disasters, than the giant destroyers who own industries and are making billions of Dollars! Evidently, the "poor and vulnerable" depend on climate sensitive natural resources far more directly than do the rich/"morally poor". But this does not mean that the former consumes more natural resources than the latter.

In The Gambia, a recent study by Dr. Nfamara K Dampha (2021) has revealed that the major drivers of loss of land cover and [environmental destruction] are industrial expansion, real estate development, climate change impacts, and timber extraction . According to the study, some of these factors are necessary for economic growth but not suitable for sustainable development. The analysis of the study revealed that a forest cover loss of 22,408 hectares (18% decrease) from 1985 to 2020 in just Southwestern Gambia. And the deforestation and other land changes in just the said area between 2003 and 2020 have contributed to 21,824 metric tons of carbon emissions. Not only are the actions of the business giants mostly harming the "poor and vulnerable", but they are equally decreasing the chances of better living standards of posterity generations. In The Gambia, climate records show an increase of 0.4% per decade increase of average monthly temperature increase across the country. And due to time lag between cause and effect of global climate system, adverse impacts are likely to persist for generations even after t