Geography Unit 1, World at Risk Compulsory Case Study 4 - Impact of climate change on the continent of Africa

Holly Lovering
Note by , created about 5 years ago

Taken straight from the Edexcel AS Geography textbook, as well as some additional facts and examples from other research.

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Holly Lovering
Created by Holly Lovering about 5 years ago
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Africa is the continent that makes the least contribution to global warming, yet it is the most vulnerable to climate change; there are more cars in the state of New York than in the whole of Africa. Much of its population is dependent on climate sensitive resources such as local water and ecosystems, and has a limited ability to respond to changing climate because of poverty.It is predicted that temperatures in Africa overall will rise by 3-4 degrees centigrade above the mean global change. Rainfall is likely to increase in the equatorial region but decrease to the north and south of that band.Water issuesLife in Africa is regulated by access to water for agriculture, domestic use and hydroelectric power. Many of the larger rivers are internationally shared (e.g. River Nile), creating potential for conflict between water users. In Libya, the saltation of coastal aquifers is having a major impact on their ability to irrigate crops and provide water. 90% of the population live in a narrow coastal strip, and this is causing rising food prices and water stressDemand outstrips supply of water for 25% of Africans. However, enough water is available in most parts of Africa. Poverty is the key reason why millions have no access to safe and reliable water supplies. However, according to the Stern Review, a 2 degree rise in temperature could lead to a 20-30% decrease in water availability in south and central Africa. East Africa is expected to experience increased short rainfall. Some streams are becoming seasonal. Water stress could lead to global wars, global migrations and famine.Food insecurity70% of the population of Africa are subsistence farmers, 85% in Ethiopia, and many of them will not be able to feed themselves should water supplies dry up, pasture quality deteriorate or crops fail. Much higher temperatures could reduce the length of the growing period in some areas by up to 20%. The Belg rains, which are vital for the coffee crops in Ethiopia, are becoming more unreliable, particularly in the east. They are no longer falling in the growing season and when they do come they are far more intense, causing increased soil erosion and washing crops away. 1.5 metric tons of soil each year with a potential loss of 1.5 million tonnes of grain. A 2 degree rise in temperature is expected to cause a 5-10% decline in crop yield in Africa. Increased locust plagues may also threaten food supplies. This impact on food security is expected to affect mostly the Sahel and east Africa, as well as affecting parts of southern Africa.Natural resourcesPoor people, especially those living in marginal environments, depend directly on wild plants and animals to support their way of life. Loss of biodiversity due to climate change will threaten them. A 2 degree rise in temperature is will cause 15-40% of species to face extinction, many of these in parts of Africa. A lot of this is to do with deforestation and loss of forest cover, either through wildfires or through humans. This is occurring throughout Africa, because poverty levels are so high, but the dense populations o the coast mean that much of it occurs there. HealthVector-borne diseases (e.g. malaria) and water-borne diseases (e.g. diarrhoea) could increase with climate change. A 2 degree rise in temperature could lead to 40-60 million more people being exposed to malaria in Africa. This is having the most impact in central and southern Africa. Moreover, 80% of health services rely on wild plants for remedies, which are under threat from damage to the environment and deforestation. Sub-Saharan Africa is affected the most by diseases triggered by climate change.Development of coastal zonesMovement of environmental refugees from the countryside puts pressure on the coastal zones, especially of north and west Africa. Refugees set up home in shanty towns in cities such as Accra, Freetown and Lagos. 60% of Africans live in coastal zones, many of which are at risk from coastal erosion and flooding. Coastal erosion and sea level rise are largely occurring along the eastern coast of Africa and along the coastlines of west and central Africa. The threat from these is likely to increase as a result of rising sea level. If the coastal zones were flooded, much of the continents infrastructure of roads, bridges and buildings would also be lost.DesertificationDesertification is a major destroyer of grasslands of Sub-Saharan Africa. It is increased by unreliable or decreasing rainfall, as well as unsustainable irrigation practices and exploitation of land. Continuing at its current rate, it could displace 50 million people within the next 10 years, the vast majority of them in Africa. It is causing mass migration to more arable areas, putting new strains on natural resources and threatening international stability as they escape to northern Africa and Europe.PovertyAt the root of Africa's vulnerability is poverty. Two thirds of the world's least developed countries are n Africa. The problem is made worse by conflicts (e.g. in Darfur in the Sudan, where pastoralists are fighting arable farmers). An unjust trading system forces many countries to sell their exports (e.g. Mali cotton) at a low price to compete with subsidised European and North American products. Above all, the burden of unpayable debt means that no money is available for the mitigation of climate impacts and the introduction of adaptive strategies.

Impact of climate change on the continent of Africa