We think we know what climate change is & how it affects our environment & our peace. If you are 13 years old, the enormity of this can be overwhelming. Matildah Nkhanga Mwandila, a Grade 9A student at St Columba’s Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia, puts climate justice into her perspective.
Humanity faces many threats, but none is greater than climate change. The question is: what is climate change? The answer: climate change is the long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns.
Climate change is mainly caused by human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, clearing of land for agriculture and grazing, the increase in energy, use of transport, and so on. Not only have these causes affected us but also they have resulted in having impact on our livelihoods and peace of mind. We have seen the rise of temperatures resulting in floods, to the drying out of rivers, the increased death of wild animals, and the progressive declines in crop yield and production.
Climate change has not only affected our environment, but also our farming activities. Due to the change of weather, it has reduced agricultural productivity, which has led to decreasing of income and consumption.
It has contributed to the rise of sea levels. How? The rising temperatures have melted the ice caps, resulting in the rise of ocean levels. This leads to the abnormal changes in the atmosphere.
But how does climate change come about? We have all heard of it – this little friend ‘global warming’, haven’t we? But what is global warming, you may ask? I have been researching the long-term heating of the earth’s surface observed since the pre-industrial period due to human activities. I understand that some gasses in the earth’s atmosphere trap the sun’s heat, stopping it from leaking back into space and that causes global warming.
But there are a variety of reasons causing global warming leading to frequent droughts and heavier rainfall. There is electricity wastage, which requires burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, which reduces the number of trees meaning there will be more carbon dioxide in the air, and of course factories producing a lot of greenhouse gases lead to the increase of air pollution.
Cause and effect – and we have to deal with the causes or these effects will continue to produce even more extreme weather events, decreases in biodiversity and food production, those rises of sea-levels, and the increase in the average global temperature. And of course, the effects don’t just change the environment but also how people live. They affect our health, our eating habits and choice of clothes.
Now – what can we do to prevent this?
As this is a problem, there is always a solution. These solutions have been devised by the United Nations to stop these causes and effects. This includes ending our reliance on fossil fuels, better forestry management and sustainable agriculture, switching to sustainable transport, and sustainable farming.
Climate change is the most significant problem faced by the world – faced by my generation. In order that my generation can have a future, we as the people need to put these solutions into practice and not wait for our leaders to fix it.
By Matildah Nkhanga Mwandila, St Columba’s Secondary School, Lusaka, Zambia