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We should unleash young ‘Maathais’ at Madrid meet

Thursday December 5 2019

As the world meets in Madrid, Spain, on December 2-13 for the COP25 to deliberate on climate change, creating synergies of individual little efforts must be considered worthwhile, ahead of coming into effect of the Paris Agreement.

Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai and 16-year-old Greta Thunberg have one thing in common - leading a global climate campaign.

Dominant themes in this campaign revolve around injustice, insensitivity, exclusion, indecision, and greed, among many others.

The current generation, ably represented by Ms Thunberg, and those after will suffer untold catastrophic trauma meted by angered Mother Nature.

To secure their future, we need to mitigate occurrence of crises such as climate grief, emergency, global heating and suffering.

Here in Kenya, we don't need any more precise signals that the impact of climate change is going to be dire, vicious and unforgiving.

UNIVERSAL EFFORTS

Just this past week, distressing reports from the counties of West Pokot and Makueni have rekindled worrying national exposure to disaster from extremities of rainy weather.

Several months before that, ironically, Kenyans were in equal anguish over devastating drought situation from extreme opposite end of the weather spectrum.

World over, it is agreeable that the ravages of climate change will continue to affect the entire planet, a bit more adversely in the developing world, making Africa a hotspot of climate crisis.

On the continent, we have enough proof that we are on the receiving end of this devastation if Mozambique and Zimbabwe typhoons are anything to go by.

It is, therefore, incumbent upon all of us to throw everything we have to mitigate the damaging outcomes of unpredictable weather, as the world keeps focus on limiting temperature rise to 1.5ºC.

YOUTH POWER

Maathai encouraged the common man to be proactive like the proverbial hummingbird that dared to take tiny drops of water from afar to extinguish a fire bringing down a forest.

There is no better hummingbird than our young generation, organised best at the national and international youth movements such as Scouts and Girl Guides.

These delicate but able hands have the capacity and potential to mobilize communities to turn around every young person as a champion of environmental conservation.

However, it isn’t going to be easy. Just as Maathai betrayal from her own country, the world has handed nothing but an embarrassment to Ms Thunberg through contempt and utter coldness.

Similarly, doubtful and wavering commitment for the Paris Agreement by world powers will be a major setback that we must put behind us as soon as possible.

DISCIPLINE

Instead, the world should give her and her school-going peers the resources and political will to unleash their power in connecting humanity to nature.

Such resources, a sure bet, would be much less than needed to maintain military troops used to protect multinationals mining fossil fuels in the Middle East or "keeping the peace" in volatile regions.

The high discipline taught to our scouts, marched to their conservation DNA, would propel the fight against climate change to the next frontier of human resilience amidst devastation as we keep our eyes on 1.5ºC.

Michael Njane is a science writer in Nairobi. [email protected]