When people hear the phrase climate change a lot of ideas and images come to mind. To some it’s a source of money in terms of trade in carbon credits, others consider it as a myth (climate change pessimists) and yet again a large section of the populace tag it as a fashionable topic among elites and ” tree huggers” as environmental enthusiasts are called in the USA.
At the same time there is a unfortunate opinion to the effect that climate change is an issue for large institutions, be they government or the Civil Society.
Despite all the different ways in which groups of people appreciate climate change one fact stands out and that is – it is one of the most discussed global issues, second only to corruption according to a 2010 BBC World Service study.
Consequently, it would be an obvious observation that climate change by virtue of its definition is an integral part of our daily lives, be it that capital intensive manufacturing plant polluting downtown, the posho mill bellowing smoke mtaani (in your neighbourhood), the car exhaust or the farmer somewhere in Masiro Kathieno cutting down trees to make charcoal.
From the examples above it is clear how climate change is woven into our daily lives in terms of causes but it would also be interesting to look at it in terms of how it affects our daily lives. Research has made it easier to understand that most if not all of current global challenges are made worse by changing and unpredictable weather patterns: be it low crop yields and droughts that witnessed the deaths of hundreds of livestock and people in 2009 in Kenya, floods, the wide range of diseases like malaria that has found its way into traditionally cool places as temperatures rise above normal and so forth and so on, the list is endless.
However, knowledge of the effects of climate change is not a big issue, at least in Kenya where a survey done in 2009 by University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) showed that 88% of Kenyans (highest statistic from 13 participating countries) believes that effects of climate change are being felt at present. Rather the fundamental aspect is potential solutions to the problem.
But before the readership start thinking of complex and imaginary solutions, I would like to point out that the solutions are real and simpler than we have been made to believe.
Then the begging question is: what can we do in the course of our daily lives to contribute in reducing our carbon footprints* and also avert the negative impacts of climate change? Well the answers do not lie in some fancy books in the library but among us. Some of the most effective ways of reducing our contribution to climate change are simple as proper waste disposal, walking or biking to work instead of driving, did I hear someone say ouch! not wasting resources be it food, water, electricity. Can this really work? Yes of course simple but the fact is that the resources in the world are just not enough to cater for the ever increasing human population especially with extravagance and unnecessary wastages. At the same time activities such as biking keeps one healthy and helps in avoiding lifestyle health problems such as heart failures and obesity, which interestingly are becoming common in Kenya.
Therefore, as you rake your mind trying to understand and put together fancy technical terms such as Kyoto Protocol, mitigation, adaptation, Clean Development Mechanism and carbon credits. Take a moment, reflect and come up with simple ways in your daily life that could make a difference in your community, nationally and hopefully globally in preserving the earth for our generation and more to come – that simple act counts.
*Carbon footprint: is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular climate change. It refers to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our daily activities as individuals e.g. burning fuel. It is usually expressed in tonnes (or kg) of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Mr Rayola is an Environmental restoration specialist at Earthcorps, Seattle, Washington