Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Atlas of Alarm

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Atlas of Alarm

In the time of Idi Amin Dada, Ugandans suffering the impacts of national economic decay bravely started wearing T-shirts with the message "Pray for my Country". Today, if you have a God, start praying for the Continent.

Then please, please turn to influencing its leaders - from family heads to local government to Presidents and Prime Ministers. Direct them towards the stark warning in the pages of "Africa - Atlas of our changing environment" just launched at the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) by the United Nations Environment Programme.
Satellite images three or four decades apart show the scale and impacts of environmental degradation, such as these declining water levels in Lake Chad. Persistent droughts and increased agricultural irrigation have reduced the Lake to one tenth of its extent 35 years ago.

Marion Cheatle, deputy director of Unep's early warning division, told the Ministers that the Atlas can show where and why action needs to be taken. Well, the (mostly) Gentlemen of AMCEN have been meeting every 2 years since 1985 and have various declarations and multilateral processes to show for it. Lots of policy, clearly not enough practice. But that's where you come in - bloggers all. Spread the word. Put pressure through the ballot box (or, where ballot boxes cannot speak for you, on those of your community who can). Take these issues from Environment Ministries to Finance Ministries. Take David Attenborough's advice and then elect more women.

And yes, pray for our Continent to the Gods of Climate Change, Population, Energy, Water, Biodiversity, Food Security and A.N.E. Other. There has to be just a glimmer of hope that the second edition of the Atlas in 2040 will show that we managed to reverse the decline?

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