LETTERS: Role of ethics in combating climate change


Much as the burden of climate change is primarily felt by developing countries such as Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The impacts of climate change will persistently threaten the global world and consequently pose serious challenges of skewed vulnerabilities, intergenerational effects and ecological justice if collective perspective is not considered in addressing the relevance of key ethical concerns, such as fairness and responsibility in harnessing climate change.

Much as the burden of climate change is primarily felt by developing countries such as Kenya. It is important noting that countries have a collective responsibility in attenuating climate change disaster-related risks. Since the harsh effects of climate change affects all of us, we should take in upon us initiating climate mitigation and adaptation actions to reduce the impact of global warming on our common home.

As the adverse effects of prolonged drought and flood episodes continue to intensify and spread, the power of Kenya to feed its growing population is put to test. The increased population of 47.8 million coupled with increased soil erosion due to floods and drought are to blame for the reducing size of arable land. Nonetheless, combined with low commodity prices and unavailability of ready markets, unfavorable weather events pose a serious threat to agriculture as a source of food, income and employment, mainly for the youth.

There is no doubt that the indeterminacy of weather and climate has become a common phenomenon that is cruising the country along unknown terrains. On one hand, floods cut power lines rendering industrial operations senile. This leads to reduced levels of productivity and ignites possibility of downsizing, which is no longer fashionable.

Power blackouts are also to blame for increased insecurity and delayed medical attention for the sick, other than causing diseases and providing ideal breeding grounds for water borne diseases.

Floods also cut roads rendering them impassable other than causing landslides, mudflows and avalanches. On the other hand, drought, which has widespread effects is to blame for hunger, conflicts and spread of airborne diseases.

Combined, the direct and indirect effects of climate change are exacerbating unbearable damages on farm and rangelands. In 2019, multiplication of quelea birds that threatened wheat harvest in Narok, compelled the Government to use Sh. 200 million to spray pesticides to kill the birds. In the counties of Mandera, Marsabit and Wajir where locusts moving in droves caused panic, the government was again compelled to spray 3,000 litres of pesticides after locals’ attempt to use bells, hitting metal plates and cups with nails and sticks proved futile. The active involvement of the police to scare the locusts with gun shots and tear gas canisters had also flopped.

The locusts visited the locale only weeks after floods had subsided. Some of these futile techniques used by locals signal the desperation that communities will continue to face when and where proper disaster management and planning lack. Whereas no one can comprehensively plan for the weather-related disasters because of the indeterminacy and magnitude of their occurrence, preparedness is adorable.

This preparedness requires resource mobilization prior to climate emergencies. Predictions using advanced technologies alongside indigenous knowledge should find ample space in disaster readiness.

For when we act after disaster strikes, when eliminate the essence of mitigation. But prudence is needed so that anticipation of disaster is used as a scapegoat for impropriety of otherwise futile resources. Preparedness also involves capacity building of communities and exploring of dimensions that a given disaster can portend harm and on how extents of damage can be minimized.

To avert risk layering, prompt responses are needed. For instances, where houses are destroyed and people displaced from their homes, rapid relocations are needed to safeguard trust in relationships. Otherwise, it can be easy for a frustrated person engaging in immoral activities which risk their health. In any case, various lines of literature reveal that climate emergencies not only trigger physiological effects per se but psychological as well.

That values can cushion us from the rage of unprecedented increases in temperature and rainfall might appear a farfetched remedy but a full analyzing of drought and floods manifestation will doubtlessly reveal greater gains where ethics is given fair space.

Obed Nyangena and Tabitha Odera via email.