31.2 C
City of Banjul
Thursday, August 5, 2021

Climate change: a lethal product of capitalism

The fight against climate change is the fight against capitalism (Hannah, 2019) because global warming is rooted in an economic system that has a parasitic relationship with the Earth upon which we live. Capitalism is highly exploitative of both people and the planet. It is driven by a desperate need for profit and wealth accumulation. That is the overriding priority. As Marx labelled it, it came into the world ‘dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt’. Its forces include industries catering to globalised tastes, using imported inputs and exporting to distant markets (Clark, 2006). No matter how it is defined, Capitalism is the most powerful force in our world creating as much problems as it purports to address. It is a system that promotes industrialisation and market expansionism to create wealth for those involved in the business. And because industrial development is the strongest pillar in the capitalist world, its expansion has direct correlation with heavier investment, and such expansive investments ultimately lead to the destruction of once-fertile lands to become barren, and trees-clad forest areas to become deserts. It is a fact! Growth needs space! And our planet Earth, to paraphrase Jeffrey Sachs, has finite resources which cannot sustain our infinite wants! The growth of capitalism (investment and expansion of environmentally-deadly multinational corporations) has produced the lethal consequence of what, in my view, we know today as Climate Change. Our earth is bleeding and we are sick and tired of the miasma!!

Climate Change is a global phenomenon. As old and real a phenomenon it is, it appears as though it was until in recent decades that it started to be given precedence in much of global discourse. But even such precedence has largely been based on mere abstract and theoretical considerations. Despite the catastrophic climate and environmental impacts that parallel economic growth, ‘no one’ took or has even taken affirmative action on time. Well, the logic is obvious! Nobody wants to shoot their foot! The fact that the destruction of the environment and our climate has been hinged on the unbridled trend of capitalistic forces of mass production of marketable items which earn the bourgeoisie class considerable amount of wealth has been the major stumbling block, at least in view of the anthropogenic threats on our planet.

As a matter of fact, it is not that the Capitalist forces are engendering the menace to our lives and livelihoods vis-à-vis environmental protection. It is the world leaders, purporting to be fighting climate and environmental injustice who are sustaining these very forces and their associated cataclysmic threats, for all that they do is to mar the global arena with rhetoric at the expense of the “poor” and “vulnerable”. Talking about poverty in the context of capitalism and its destructive nature, I personally see two categories of poor people: the one who, out of greed, does not have conscience and sucks resources at the expense of others; and the one, who suffers the consequences of the actions of the greedy. To me, the former is best understood as “moral poverty”. It is the most dangerous form of poverty. It kills by careless consumption. This sort of poverty is being engendered by the ideals of capitalism which, to paraphrase John Rees, was born a murderous infant and its appetite to kill grows as it ages. Why does the infant continue to murder, as though an armed robber in an unpoliced society?

The unending international convergences done in the name of addressing issues of climate change and the environment are indications that there are  of course “Police” policing the actions of the “morally poor”. But what we do know is that the “Police” and their “policing strategy” are at best not taking affirmative action, and at worst, complacent of the dangers of the actions of the capitalists. In fact, I would be fair to say the “global convergences” about climate and the environment are merely transitory and abstract moments of narrating sugar-coated and scapegoatist state reports, and presentation of ill-informed policy strategies. They actually do not mean anything to the “poor and vulnerable”. Thus, we cannot begin to sense any sort of hope for the arrival of better days. And so long as this continues, to fight climate change and environmental destruction will be like chasing a mirage.

The United Nation’s 1972 Conference on the Human Environment; the 1992 Conference on the Environment and Development; the 1998  Conference on Climate Change; the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development; the 2015 Paris Summit; the drawing of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, as well as the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1972, and the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992,  have all proven to be like carrying coal to Newcastle as far as the quest to end climate and environmental injustice is concern. The annual Conference of Parties (COP) which should rather be called “Conference of Polluters” is as equally useless for us the “Poor and vulnerable”. Well, even though in April, 2021, the United Kingdom (the first truly capitalist country in the world) enshrined a new target in law to slash Green House Gases(GHGs) emissions by 78% by 2035 as part of its commitment to the 2050 “Global Net Zero” target, the actualisation of such an ambitious target especially when it is coming from a purely-capitalist country remains to be doubted.

The actions of the biggest enemies of our climate and environment: the giant oil companies, who, according to Dare-Energy, make us ‘drink’ 36 billion barrels of oil every year, are neither justifiable nor tackled with urgency. In fact, the daringness of these giants to continue doing what they do is because they know the magnitude of damage they do does not commensurate the so-called sanctions, or fines they face; and even if they are faced with such sanctions and fines, they are mostly momentarily… For example, Britain’s Oil Giant, BP, was fined by a court ruling to pay $20 Billion in compensation for oil spill in 2010 which was the largest spill of oil in the history of marine oil drilling operations (Alux.com, 2018; and United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2020). With this, one would be tempted to ask: what percentage is $20 billion of BP’s overall revenue/worth vis-à-vis the magnitude of environmental damage of the spill? In my view, even if $20 billion sounds to be such a huge fine, it is nowhere close to the quality of environment loss. Additionally, not only are oil companies “environmentally destructive and deadly”, they mostly reveal inaccurate reports and inventories of the level of damage they do to our environment. The either under report or fail to report. And this goes to show that they are not under any real pressure to act responsibly.

The reality is, the aforesaid global plans and systems have neither been really protecting the people and their properties, nor the planets and its plants. In each of these convergences, our global leaders drew plans and strategies, set global targets, made commitments to action, but to what extend have these been actualised? Why are they not actualising? Who is derailing their actualisation? In relation to these questions, a climate analyst asked this relevant and rhetorical question: “Is it a vain hope for 197 countries to agree on any meaningful climate action at all, especially when it involves so much money and power?” In fact, some critics to “Global Leaders and Institutions on Climate Change” would argue that trying to get 197 countries to agree on anything is a fool’s errand especially when the call is seen as that which is against the system that keeps their hegemonies alive. Critics such as David Victor have questioned whether the UN is the appropriate venue for climate negotiations. He argues that such a forum is inevitably going to lead to gridlock.

Unfortunately, the very countries sustaining the operations of the UN System, and financing the said global convergences and plans that emanate from them, are the leading capitalist states in our present-day world. And as I indicated in the analogy in the opening of this essay, ‘no one shoots their foot.’ And we must not forget that he who pays the piper calls the tune. The institutions, and convergences are merely in existent to gaslight the world about climate and environmental injustice; not to truly upend the destructive trends of capitalism. A case in point is when the United States, in 2017, pulled out of the 2015 Paris Agreement which (at least on paper) urges countries to cut their level of GHGs emissions to reduce and regulate global temperatures. It did so without facing any major reprimand from global institutions. Why didn’t it…? 

The US has never been interested in fighting to stop climate change. Clearly, in the build-up to the Rio 1992 Summit, the sticking point was – and still is – what the US government, and the business lobbies behind it, would fine acceptable. Although some countries at the Summit were keen that any treaty (formed there and then) include actual commitments to reduce CO2 emissions, with targets and timetables for the rich nations, the Bush government warned that if these were included in the text they would not attend the Summit.  As if that was not enough, when the Kyoto Protocol, which extended the 1992 UNFCCC, was agreed in 1997, despite the fact that carbon trading and other economic instruments within it were designed to keep the US and [its allies in climate destruction] happy, no serious commitment to reductions was made. In fact, US then pulled out of the implementation of the Protocol  in 2001, when George W Bush became president.

Muhammed Ceesay, BA, Development Studies; and Climate Change Project Manager, Activista, Gambia

Disclaimer: This article is not a scientific paper and should not be cited as such. Although it has provided citations (where necessary), it has been developed based on my personal opinions on the subject matter guided by relevant literatures and materials I consulted.

 “To keep the us happy?” Mark that! Is this not a justification to my assertion that he who pays the piper calls the tune?

It is crystal clear why the US blatantly and shamelessly keep dragging its feet to end climate and environmental injustice. Indicatively, its lack of regard for our climate was portrayed clearer in 2019 (just four years after the 2015 Summit) when it became the world’s second largest emitter of Global GHGs. It refused to honour the 2015 Agreement on one hand to free itself from committing to an Action against its interest, and on the other knowing that even if it fails to honour the Agreement, it will not face any major reprimands from the global institutions. Unfortunately, it is not only the highly industrialised countries like the US who reluctantly commit to climate and environmental justice. Even the newly industrialised or industrialising countries like China (which has been the most incessant emitter over the years) drag their feet to the call to climate and environmental justice. In the debate surrounding the reduction of GHGs emissions, countries like China have always given the pretext that they are on the course of industrialisation just like the now-industrialised western countries like US were in the past. For this reason, they will begin to turn their attention to cutting down emissions when they reach the desired level of economic growth enough to sustain them for considerable number of years and have developed the required capacity to embark on ‘Green Development’. This is the most unfortunate and tragic excuse! 

According to David Alexander Clark (2006), one of the misleading conclusions that some people have is that developing countries can afford to wait before they address environmental issues believing that the problem will correct itself as economic growth occurs. No such conclusion can be derived. The cost of high levels of air pollution and water pollution in terms of forgone well-being and economic growth is now known to be formidable. There is more than a suspicion that development policies giving more emphasis to environmental quality would enhance, not inhibit, real income growth. While sufficient evidence exists to show that investing in environmental assets can yield significant positive net benefits, but many of the benefits in question show up in ‘non-market’ form. That is gains in human well-being that are not registered in conventional measures of economic progress such as gross national product (Clark, 2006). Gains that show up in the marketplace such as traded goods and services, or as assets such as roads and machinery, appear far more ‘real’ than gains in human health or increased supplies of fuelwood or wildlife (ibid). And this is why our environment and climate continue to suffer as countries/capitalists persistently pursue to fatten their economies and soar their returns in investment. The capitalists of the world must be reminded that development is interested not so much in the growth of an economy, but the conditions under which production occur and the results that flow from it, for because of social and environmental reasons, growth is justifiable only when it produces safe development and satisfies essential human needs (Peet et. al, 2009).

In fact, in the 2020 World Meteorological Organisation’s Report: State of Global Climate, the Secretary General of the Organisation lamented that the concentrations of the major GHGs continued to increase in 2019 and 2020. The report indicated that globally averaged fractions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are already high, and if the CO2 concentration follows the same pattern as in previous years, it could reach very high levels in 2021. Stabilising global mean temperature at 1.5 °C to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (as per the Paris Agreement) by the end of this century will require an ambitious reduction of  , which must begin to occur during this decade. With the institutionalisation of all the aforesaid ‘global plans, and commitments, one would have expected a down-turn curve of the trend line of GHGs in the wake of these conferences, agreements and goals.

Scientific timelines on global temperatures indicate that, 2020, five years after the Paris Agreement, was one of the warmest years in the annals of global climate history. This should not be surprising, anyway! Because in the late 1950s, scientists warned that carbon dioxide was building up [in the atmosphere] and that this could be a problem. And by the late 1970s, they knew this accumulation would be catastrophic. Worst enough, between 2015 and 2020, the rate of global deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year (www.fao.org, n.d). With this, one continues to see the little impact the aforesaid convergences and systems have…Enough scientific studies have revealed that the critical drivers of land use that lead to the rapid loss of land cover and increase in global temperatures due to emission of carbon-dioxide include industrial expansion, real estate development, and timber extraction. All these are pure actions sustaining the business of capitalism. But because positive environmental policies will decrease per capita incomes (Clark, 2006), the ‘trade-off’ between environmental protection and economic growth remains to be given a blind eye. Thus, the argument that high level of economic growth can ameliorate the very problems it causes remain firm in the views of the gluttony who subscribe to the misconstrued view that the environment is something of a luxury, an issue which can be attended to only when per capita incomes have risen to some target level (ibid).

The catastrophe of “global” plans and commitments is that they are hinged on very ambitious but haphazardly coordinated mechanisms championed by individuals and institutions that do not feel the pangs and pains of the harshest of conditions they purport to address. This deliberate inaction is disproportionately increasing the impacts of environmental destruction and climate change on the “poor and vulnerable” especially in countries in the Global South. The “poor and vulnerable” bear the brunt of increased global temperatures causing skin diseases and rising sea levels affecting food and water systems due to salination of fresh water bodies; and rainfall variabilities causing droughts, and floods; thus, hunger and starvation. A UN Report on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2020 indicated that overall climate-related disaster went up from 3,656 in 1980-1999 to 6,681 in 2000-2019; thus, showing an increase of 83% between the said periods.

Unfortunately, when struck by such disaster and mishaps, they (the poor and vulnerable) resort to such unsustainable and desperate coping and adaptive strategies as asset stripping  (the sale of assets such as livestock, houses, household utensils and farming equipment or barter trading for food). In many cases, [poor] households resort to selling livestock but often the prices they realise from the sales largely depend on the level of desperation of that household. This means that households or individuals often get prices below the market value for their livestock (UNDP, 2017). This goes to show that even though the “poor and vulnerable” contribute to the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere and land cover loss by embarking on certain human activities like burning objects releasing carbon-dioxide and felling trees (which they mostly do for survival), they pay more price for the catastrophic events of climate and environmental disasters, than the giant destroyers who own industries and are making billions of Dollars! Evidently, the “poor and vulnerable” depend on climate sensitive natural resources far more directly than do the rich/”morally poor”. But this does not mean that the former consumes more natural resources than the latter.

In The Gambia, a recent study by Dr. Nfamara K Dampha (2021) has revealed that the major drivers of loss of land cover and [environmental destruction] are industrial expansion, real estate development, climate change impacts, and timber extraction. According to the study, some of these factors are necessary for economic growth but not suitable for sustainable development. The analysis of the study revealed that a forest cover loss of 22,408 hectares (18% decrease) from 1985 to 2020 in just Southwestern Gambia. And the deforestation and other land changes in just the said area between 2003 and 2020 have contributed to 21,824 metric tons of carbon emissions. Not only are the actions of the business giants mostly harming the “poor and vulnerable”, but they are equally decreasing the chances of better living standards of posterity generations. In The Gambia, climate records show an increase of 0.4% per decade increase of average monthly temperature increase across the country. And due to time lag between cause and effect of global climate system, adverse impacts are likely to persist for generations even after the global community succeeds in stabilising GHGs concentrations in the atmosphere (NAPA, 2007).

The Gambia is highly vulnerable to Climate Change. Thus, climate change impacts can cause failed or excess rains which could cause hunger and destruction of properties in the country (Ceesay et. al. n.d). Additionally, Jaiteh et, al. (n.d), The Gambia’s fisheries, fish resources [and other food systems and livelihoods] are vulnerable to climate change and variability. Hyper-salinity in mangroves and other wetland ecosystems could inhibit the systematic spawning and recruitment and reduction in the population of economically important fisheries species. Increase in average temperature will affect the fisheries sector by altering fish habitat availability, quality, and potential for the habitat to sustain fish communities. This can automatically lead to drastic reduction of fisheries and fish resources stock; thus, severely impacting the ability of the country to, on one hand earn economic benefits from these resources, and on the other hand affect the country’s food security which eventually threatens the lives of the “poor and vulnerable”. Despite all the scientific studies, impacts and potential damages of climate change in the country, as well as the relatively early cautionary   Banjul Declaration of 1977 by former president, Jawara, for the protection of biodiversity, it was until 2016 that The Gambia developed its first Climate Change Policy which is an indication of the long level of complacency and political unwillingness to address Climate Change and related environmental issues. Although, The Gambia, has been preparing its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) reports, which give inventories of the level of countries’ GHGs emissions and their efforts in combating climate change (as required of countries by the Paris Agreement), the institutionalisation of a holistically integrated Climate Change Policy had been long overdue.

Because the world is a globalized village, the nexus between the expansion of capitalist mode of operations and forces like industrialisation and increased consumption of industrial products in the name of economic growth is clear. Have you ever sat for a split moment and thought of the huge role you are playing in sustaining the business of the destructive capitalists? Did you know that the coffee that we enjoy every morning in our air-conditioned offices, the chocolate sticks we bring along for our children at home when we close from work, the fuel we fill in our vehicle tanks at gas stations, all have been produced in the most harmful way to our climate and environment? So should we not be guilty that our consumption patterns are not only putting more Dollars in the pockets of the “morally poor”, but are equally continuing to increase the risks of climate and environmental disasters? Sure! We should be, at least for the sake of protecting the human race! But then are we going to stop consuming what we have been consuming? Are we going to cease buying and consuming industrial products in order to bankrupt the producers harming our environment and climate? That may sound preposterous and practically too late and impossible! It is really not! The way out is when we are able to find the right answer(s) to the question: how can development be environmentally friendly, economically viable and socially inclusive? Unfortunately, in a world where the gluttony keep converting poor people’s fertile lands into oil-drilling grounds, fresh water bodies into “oceans of oil” and forest areas into lines of lifeless skyscrapers, the answers to these questions do not seem to be provided anytime soon…

Muhammed Ceesay, BA, Development Studies; and Climate Change Project Manager, Activista, Gambia

Disclaimer: This article is not a scientific paper and should not be cited as such. Although it has provided citations (where necessary), it has been developed based on my personal opinions on the subject matter guided by relevant literatures and materials I consulted.

“To keep the us happy?” Mark that! Is this not a justification to my assertion that he who pays the piper calls the tune?

It is crystal clear why the US blatantly and shamelessly keeps dragging its feet to end climate and environmental injustice. Indicatively, its lack of regard for our climate was portrayed clearer in 2019 (just four years after the 2015 Summit) when it became the world’s second largest emitter of Global GHGs. It refused to honour the 2015 Agreement on one hand to free itself from committing to an Action against its interest, and on the other knowing that even if it fails to honour the Agreement, it will not face any major reprimands from the global institutions. Unfortunately, it is not only the highly industrialised countries like the US who reluctantly commit to climate and environmental justice. Even the newly industrialised or industrialising countries like China (which has been the most incessant emitter over the years) drag their feet to the call to climate and environmental justice. In the debate surrounding the reduction of GHGs emissions, countries like China have always given the pretext that they are on the course of industrialisation just like the now-industrialised western countries like US were in the past. For this reason, they will begin to turn their attention to cutting down emissions when they reach the desired level of economic growth enough to sustain them for considerable number of years and have developed the required capacity to embark on ‘Green Development’. This is the most unfortunate and tragic excuse! 

According to David Alexander Clark (2006), one of the misleading conclusions that some people have is that developing countries can afford to wait before they address environmental issues believing that the problem will correct itself as economic growth occurs. No such conclusion can be derived. The cost of high levels of air pollution and water pollution in terms of forgone well-being and economic growth is now known to be formidable. There is more than a suspicion that development policies giving more emphasis to environmental quality would enhance, not inhibit, real income growth. While sufficient evidence exists to show that investing in environmental assets can yield significant positive net benefits, but many of the benefits in question show up in ‘non-market’ form. That is gains in human well-being that are not registered in conventional measures of economic progress such as gross national product (Clark, 2006). Gains that show up in the marketplace such as traded goods and services, or as assets such as roads and machinery, appear far more ‘real’ than gains in human health or increased supplies of fuelwood or wildlife (ibid). And this is why our environment and climate continue to suffer as countries/capitalists persistently pursue to fatten their economies and soar their returns in investment. The capitalists of the world must be reminded that development is interested not so much in the growth of an economy, but the conditions under which production occur and the results that flow from it, for because of social and environmental reasons, growth is justifiable only when it produces safe development and satisfies essential human needs (Peet et. al, 2009).

In fact, in the 2020 World Meteorological Organisation’s Report: State of Global Climate, the Secretary General of the Organisation lamented that the concentrations of the major GHGs continued to increase in 2019 and 2020. The report indicated that globally averaged fractions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are already high, and if the CO2 concentration follows the same pattern as in previous years, it could reach very high levels in 2021. Stabilising global mean temperature at 1.5 °C to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (as per the Paris Agreement) by the end of this century will require an ambitious reduction of  , which must begin to occur during this decade. With the institutionalisation of all the aforesaid ‘global plans, and commitments, one would have expected a down-turn curve of the trend line of GHGs in the wake of these conferences, agreements and goals.

Scientific timelines on global temperatures indicate that, 2020, five years after the Paris Agreement, was one of the warmest years in the annals of global climate history. This should not be surprising, anyway! Because in the late 1950s, scientists warned that carbon dioxide was building up [in the atmosphere] and that this could be a problem. And by the late 1970s, they knew this accumulation would be catastrophic. Worst enough, between 2015 and 2020, the rate of global deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year (www.fao.org, n.d). With this, one continues to see the little impact the aforesaid convergences and systems have…Enough scientific studies have revealed that the critical drivers of land use that lead to the rapid loss of land cover and increase in global temperatures due to emission of carbon-dioxide include industrial expansion, real estate development, and timber extraction. All these are pure actions sustaining the business of capitalism. But because positive environmental policies will decrease per capita incomes (Clark, 2006), the ‘trade-off’ between environmental protection and economic growth remains to be given a blind eye. Thus, the argument that high level of economic growth can ameliorate the very problems it causes remain firm in the views of the gluttony who subscribe to the misconstrued view that the environment is something of a luxury, an issue which can be attended to only when per capita incomes have risen to some target level (ibid).

The catastrophe of “global” plans and commitments is that they are hinged on very ambitious but haphazardly coordinated mechanisms championed by individuals and institutions that do not feel the pangs and pains of the harshest of conditions they purport to address. This deliberate inaction is disproportionately increasing the impacts of environmental destruction and climate change on the “poor and vulnerable” especially in countries in the Global South. The “poor and vulnerable” bear the brunt of increased global temperatures causing skin diseases and rising sea levels affecting food and water systems due to salination of fresh water bodies; and rainfall variabilities causing droughts, and floods; thus, hunger and starvation. A UN Report on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2020 indicated that overall climate-related disaster went up from 3,656 in 1980-1999 to 6,681 in 2000-2019; thus, showing an increase of 83% between the said periods.

Unfortunately, when struck by such disaster and mishaps, they (the poor and vulnerable) resort to such unsustainable and desperate coping and adaptive strategies as asset stripping  (the sale of assets such as livestock, houses, household utensils and farming equipment or barter trading for food). In many cases, [poor] households resort to selling livestock but often the prices they realise from the sales largely depend on the level of desperation of that household. This means that households or individuals often get prices below the market value for their livestock (UNDP, 2017). This goes to show that even though the “poor and vulnerable” contribute to the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere and land cover loss by embarking on certain human activities like burning objects releasing carbon-dioxide and felling trees (which they mostly do for survival), they pay more price for the catastrophic events of climate and environmental disasters, than the giant destroyers who own industries and are making billions of Dollars! Evidently, the “poor and vulnerable” depend on climate sensitive natural resources far more directly than do the rich/”morally poor”. But this does not mean that the former consumes more natural resources than the latter.

In The Gambia, a recent study by Dr. Nfamara K Dampha (2021) has revealed that the major drivers of loss of land cover and [environmental destruction] are industrial expansion, real estate development, climate change impacts, and timber extraction. According to the study, some of these factors are necessary for economic growth but not suitable for sustainable development. The analysis of the study revealed that a forest cover loss of 22,408 hectares (18% decrease) from 1985 to 2020 in just Southwestern Gambia. And the deforestation and other land changes in just the said area between 2003 and 2020 have contributed to 21,824 metric tons of carbon emissions. Not only are the actions of the business giants mostly harming the “poor and vulnerable”, but they are equally decreasing the chances of better living standards of posterity generations. In The Gambia, climate records show an increase of 0.4% per decade increase of average monthly temperature increase across the country. And due to time lag between cause and effect of global climate system, adverse impacts are likely to persist for generations even after the global community succeeds in stabilising GHGs concentrations in the atmosphere (NAPA, 2007).

The Gambia is highly vulnerable to Climate Change. Thus, climate change impacts can cause failed or excess rains which could cause hunger and destruction of properties in the country (Ceesay et. al. n.d). Additionally, Jaiteh et, al. (n.d), The Gambia’s fisheries, fish resources [and other food systems and livelihoods] are vulnerable to climate change and variability. Hyper-salinity in mangroves and other wetland ecosystems could inhibit the systematic spawning and recruitment and reduction in the population of economically important fisheries species. Increase in average temperature will affect the fisheries sector by altering fish habitat availability, quality, and potential for the habitat to sustain fish communities. This can automatically lead to drastic reduction of fisheries and fish resources stock; thus, severely impacting the ability of the country to, on one hand earn economic benefits from these resources, and on the other hand affect the country’s food security which eventually threatens the lives of the “poor and vulnerable”. Despite all the scientific studies, impacts and potential damages of climate change in the country, as well as the relatively early cautionary   Banjul Declaration of 1977 by former president, Jawara, for the protection of biodiversity, it was until 2016 that The Gambia developed its first Climate Change Policy which is an indication of the long level of complacency and political unwillingness to address Climate Change and related environmental issues. Although, The Gambia, has been preparing its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) reports, which give inventories of the level of countries’ GHGs emissions and their efforts in combating climate change (as required of countries by the Paris Agreement), the institutionalisation of a holistically integrated Climate Change Policy had been long overdue.

Because the world is a globalized village, the nexus between the expansion of capitalist mode of operations and forces like industrialisation and increased consumption of industrial products in the name of economic growth is clear. Have you ever sat for a split moment and thought of the huge role you are playing in sustaining the business of the destructive capitalists? Did you know that the coffee that we enjoy every morning in our air-conditioned offices, the chocolate sticks we bring along for our children at home when we close from work, the fuel we fill in our vehicle tanks at gas stations, all have been produced in the most harmful way to our climate and environment? So should we not be guilty that our consumption patterns are not only putting more Dollars in the pockets of the “morally poor”, but are equally continuing to increase the risks of climate and environmental disasters? Sure! We should be, at least for the sake of protecting the human race! But then are we going to stop consuming what we have been consuming? Are we going to cease buying and consuming industrial products in order to bankrupt the producers harming our environment and climate? That may sound preposterous and practically too late and impossible! It is really not! The way out is when we are able to find the right answer(s) to the question: how can development be environmentally friendly, economically viable and socially inclusive? Unfortunately, in a world where the gluttony keep converting poor people’s fertile lands into oil-drilling grounds, fresh water bodies into “oceans of oil” and forest areas into lines of lifeless skyscrapers, the answers to these questions do not seem to be provided anytime soon…

Muhammed Ceesay, BA, Development Studies; and Climate Change Project Manager, Activista, Gambia

Disclaimer: This article is not a scientific paper and should not be cited as such. Although it has provided citations (where necessary), it has been developed based on my personal opinions on the subject matter guided by relevant literatures and materials I consulted.

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