Are the consequences of global warming worse for Africa than for the Arctic?
The consequences of global warming on Africa are worse than on the Arctic.Africa is already among the poorest continents in the world.Out of 55 countries, two-thirds of these countries are among the poorest 50 countries in 2007.
Many African countries already have outstanding debt which needs to be cleared so that the countries can come out of poverty. Africa’s average income per capita was $0.72. Also, 34% of the population aged 15-24 is illiterate. This shows that further drawbacks due to the impacts from global warming would be critical.
As scarcity increases, the dependence on poor quality sources also increases. This leads to increased water-borne diseases such as cholera. Consequently, this puts increased pressure on health care systems which then decrease government budgets. Global warming affects Africa worse because Africa is a continent which desperately needs money to clear debt and for development.
The impact of global warming on Africa is more physical and human. Africa contains about 20% of all known species of plants, mammals and birds, as well as 17% of amphibians and reptiles. There is much more at risk compared to the effects of global warming on the Arctic. As global warming increases, fragile habitats may not survive and between 20-50% of species in Africa could face extinction.
On the other hand, the impacts of global warming on the Arctic are much less serious. For example, due to global warming, ice caps melt and the ice bergs impose a potential threat to the ships that cross the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. When comparing this to a potential impact in Africa such as the increased risk to flooding which now occurs in areas that were previously not at risk, the effects are much more severe.
When analysing the positive and negative impacts on both regions, it is clear that Africa has very few positive impacts from global warming. In the Arctic, reduced ice cover can lead to discovery of new sites for resources such as oil. This can benefit the region economically, providing jobs and income. There will be new areas for trees to grow which could decrease carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Also, new industries can move in and new shipping routes may be available.
Moreover, the population of Africa is 1.033 billion (2011) compared to the population of 4 million in the Arctic. The impacts of global warming would be far greater widespread in Africa, effecting many of them as they are vulnerable due to existing poverty. One negative impact on Arctic is that it will alter the lifestyle of the native people. Although this is bad, it is insignificant compared to the effects on Africa.
Also, the impact of global warming on the Arctic could be felt all over the world as sea levels would rise causing flooding. I believe that this is still out-weighed by the impacts on Africa as one of the few ways in which African countries can reduce their debt burden is through the production of cash crops (the crops sold for income rather than to supply themselves with food). As a result, forest clearance has taken place in order to allow commercial farming.
Impacts of global warming such as drought in Africa would expose soil to erosion by wind. This will put increased pressure on existing land to grow crops which is likely to cause desertification. Famine and malnutrition is likely to increase, placing Africa’s food security under threat. African farmers are trapped into poverty because they are dependent on successful crop harvests. Crops can be heavily influenced by the impacts from global warming. Therefore, people cannot feed themselves or make money and will be trapped in poverty as they cannot reduce the effects of climate change themselves.
In conclusion, the future of Africa is heavily dependent on climate change. They do not have the wealth to use adaptation policies to reduce the impact of global warming such as protection against flooding and coastal erosion. The Arctic region itself will have negative impacts but there will also be positive impacts which make the situation less serious.