If we need any more proof that life is unfair, it is that subsistence villagers here in Africa will pay with their lives for our refusal to curb greenhouse gas emissions. ...On a related note, the United Nations released a new report today, concluding that a whole bunch of fertile land will probably crumble into desert within the next generation, especially in Africa and Central Asia--creating an "environmental crisis of global proportions." About 50 million people are at risk of displacement. (A fifth of the population of Mali, for instance, already moves to Ivory Coast during drought years.) Some African countries, presumably, will have to give up trying to feed themselves and start importing food. Not all of that is due to climate change, but some of it is.
People in Burundi have an annual average income of $100, nearly one child in five dies before the age of five, and life expectancy is 45. Against that grim backdrop, changing weather patterns in recent years have already caused crop failures--and when the crops fail here, people starve. ...
Greenhouse gases actually have the greatest impact at high latitudes — the Arctic and Antarctica. But the impact there isn’t all bad (Canada will gain a northwest passage), and the countries there are rich enough to absorb the shocks.
In contrast, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned this year that the consequences for Africa will be particularly harsh because of the region’s poverty and vulnerability. It foresees water shortages and crop failures in much of Africa.
"Projected reductions in yield in some countries could be as much as 50 percent by 2020, and crop net revenues could fall as much as 90 percent," the panel warned. It also cautioned that warming temperatures could lead malaria to spread to highland areas. Another concern is that scarcities of food and water will trigger wars.