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Monday, 4 February 2008

Africa: Political Instability, Wildlife and Climate Change

Just exchanging emails last night with another environmental consultant over the social unrest in Chad. Apart from the humanitarian and wildlife disasters in Africa, which was one reason why we recommended to the UK Government in 2002, Africa as a main focus of UK policy on the environment, becoming part of the agenda of the 2005 G8 summit. There was another underlying reason.

One of the big unknowns of climate modelling in the 80’s was the amount of CO2 stored as biomass in African grasslands. Breakdown of the African ecosystems could release large quantities of green house gases into the atmosphere.

Social, political and economic chaos in Africa could result in uncontrolled butchery of African wildlife. Breakdown of the ecosystems and carbon emissions. If CO2 is a driver of climate change this creates a potentially dangerous situation.

Social factors are not fully represented in the climate models. CO2 release from political and social collapse, destabilising ecosystems increases climate change over predicted trends.
Though more related to the to the Scottish dynamic, this article gives 34% of world CO2 stored in grasslands.

Though pleased the UK Government responded to our recommendation regarding Africa. Perhaps a more inclusive strategy with more emphasis on wildlife and ecology needs to be introduced, in addition to socio-economic and humanitarian efforts.

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