Is Our Planet Finally Giving Up?

Authored by Elizabeth Mbekeka, (Uganda)

As though being stuck at home due to the global pandemic and lockdown restrictions hasn’t hurt us enough already, climate change may see to it that we have an encore of this ugly situation sometime in the near future. We are losing more glaciers at
a terrific speed and with sea-levels rising as a result, airports, beaches may be a distant memory in the future. Unlike the pandemic, fixing the planet is not as easy as creating a vaccine over a few months.

Global warming or the rise in the average global temperature is a long-existing topic but somehow it remains a practical concern for a few. This gradual process is caused by the accumulation of gases like carbon dioxide and methane, released mostly from the burning of fossil fuels, which create a heat-retaining blanket in the earth’s atmosphere. The blanket creation also termed the greenhouse effect, prevents heat and radiation from the sun, industrialization, and other human activities from escaping into outer space thus warming up the environment.

Global warming is the key culprit behind the break up of the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers located in West Antarctica on the Amundsen Sea, which happened on the 15th of September, 2020.
These are predicted to account for 5% rise of global sea-levels.

Furthermore, a National Geographic article titled The Big Thaw, states that the 150 glaciers originally existent in Glacier National Park located in Montana, USA, have reduced to fewer than 30, many of the remainders have shrunk to less than two thirds!

In Uganda, the famous Mountain Rwenzori, also known as Mountains of the Moon because of its white, snowy peaks is reportedly losing its crown due to te significant increase in hot days in that area.

Nature had, without a doubt, established a clever balancing act: a designated amount of water should flow in rivers, lakes, seas, and other water bodies, while the other amount should be held up in the form of ice glaciers. But destructive, unchecked human intervention has caused a dangerous shift of this delicate balance, with activities like deforestation, swamp drainage, and rampant industrialization interfering with or suffocating the components required to maintain it.

The shrinking of glaciers worldwide is displaying its ugly consequences as the melted water flows into water bodies and fills them beyond their carrying capacity, resulting in flooding. The warm environment leads to high evaporation rates, hastening the water cycle, and hence heavy downpours that have destroyed lives and property. In September 2020 alone, India, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mexico, Ethiopia, and France reported flooding following heavy rains.

The rate at which such natural resources are deteriorating is worrying and the effects directly weighing down on us in terms of human displacements, loss of property, national financial setbacks, and some plant and animal species becoming extinct.

It’s a give and take situation, we can carry on like nothing’s wrong until such an unfortunate time when our airports, favourite beaches, and costal towns are forever submerged into legendary lost underground cities. Global warming threatens our outdoor hobbies, hiking, going out for picnics with family and friends, fishing. It threatens our wildlife, infrastructure, health and basic survival. We only have one planet, and the clock is ticking if we don’t prioritise protecting our environment, at least within what each one of us can in our most immediate surroundings, communities and homes.

[Edited by Liz Mweru]