War trumps climate crisis in global worry list

Kanamkuny village

A woman in drought-hit Kanamkuny village in Turkana County on October 11. 

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

As the climate crisis worsens with its impact directly felt globally, it seems that people around the world care very little about it.

This is according to a new survey that shows that people from the most affected regions worry more about war, terrorism, crime, violence, Covid-19, and livelihoods. Compared to 2019, the climate change concern globally has dropped by 1.5 per cent.

The survey conducted by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) was published in the latest Ecological Threat Report. The report evaluates natural threats and maps out countries that are at risk from conflict, civil unrest and displacement caused by ecological degradation and climate-related events. The analysis shows that, inasmuch as climate change issues are disregarded, its reality cannot be swept under the carpet.

 “Without concerted action, current levels of ecological degradation will worsen, intensifying existing conflicts, becoming a catalyst for new conflicts, and increasing forced migration,” says the report.

This finding comes exactly a fortnight to a global United Nations (UN) Conference of Parties (COP) meeting on climate change, which will be the 27th since the inception of the global agency, hence COP27. This year’s conference will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh in  Egypt and among key concerns to be discussed are the ecological threats attributed to climate change.

“The world’s current approach to the countries suffering the worst climate-related issues is not working; ecological threats are increasing and have systemic causes that require systemic solutions,” said IEP founder and executive chairman Steve Killelea.

 The report shows that about 750 million people globally are undernourished due to climate change. This number has increased by 35 per cent since 2017.

Undernourishment refers to a medical impact on people’s bodies because the food they take in cannot sustain them. Of the 41 countries that were found to be food insecure, 37 were in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report shows that Nairobi will be ranked as a megacity (a city with more than 10 million people) by 2050 and is likely to face the harshest challenges. Other cities cited are Kinshasa, Lagos, Dhaka, Baghdad, Lahore, Kolkata and Delhi.

A separate analysis done by Oxfam International also highlights the extent of the threat that the climate crisis poses. Published mid this month, the Oxfam report shows that the drought situation in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia is likely to claim a life after every 36 seconds between now and the end of the year.

“The alarm has been sounding for months, but donors are yet to wake up to the terrible reality.”

“With another failed rains season expected, failure to act will turn a crisis into a full-scale catastrophe,” said Oxfam Horn East and Central Africa Regional Director Parvin Ngala .