This summer was the UK’s joint hottest summer on record. Temperatures in London hit 35oC, Cornwall felt like Copacabana and Swansea felt like Salamanca. After a long (and rather cold) winter in a student house, I personally couldn’t have wished for anything better. I’m that guy who always feels cold, so this long, Mediterranean-like summer was more than welcome. However, I couldn’t help but notice it was a clear sign that our climate is changing.
The View From Tanzania
Earlier this year, I visited Northern Tanzania with my university to research the impact of climate change on the region’s agricultural sector. I knew it had affected the region, but I was curious to find out exactly how. Through multiple conversations with local farmers, one thing became clear – climate change is real. Not exactly a groundbreaking discovery. But what surprised me is how unfairly it’s affecting people living in poverty.
Currently more than 766 million people live in extreme poverty around the world and the majority rely on rain-fed agriculture for food and income. Problematically, rain-fed agriculture is really vulnerable to climate change. This was the case in Northern Tanzania. Almost every farmer I spoke to mentioned they were harvesting significantly less in recent years. Dry seasons have been getting notably longer and instances of flooding have increased. Ultimately this has led to increased hunger in the region and a loss of agricultural-income, which leaves people struggling to afford things like healthcare and education.
An Unequal Equation
The thing that really struck me whilst I was in Northern Tanzania, is that climate change is massively unjust and unequal. The average Briton emits almost 33 times more CO2 than the average Tanzanian. The transport we use, our daily activities and the items we buy in the UK all majorly contribute to these emissions. Despite this, Tanzanians are more likely to suffer from the negative effects.
One person in 19 from the world’s poorest countries is at risk from climate change, compared to one in 1,500 in the wealthiest.
Whilst we contribute a significant proportion of emissions, people living in poverty are getting longer dry seasons, harsher typhoons and losing more income. How is this just? How is it fair? If we’re called to love our neighbours around the world, then we we need to make sure our actions aren’t making life tragically more difficult for them.
I don’t mean to put a downer on things – this summer was fantastic. But it was also an important reminder that climate change is happening now and seriously affecting people living in poverty. We have to consider our lifestyles and our emissions in light of this. To understand more about the consequences of your daily choices, why not calculate your carbon footprint?
Make a difference today
The journey to reducing your CO2 emissions can seem daunting at first, but there are tons of resources to help you on your way. You can find everything from inspiring Zero Waste stories to delicious Thai curry recipes and more in our How To category.