Planting trees helps, but lifestyle change is what will save the environment

The donor countries caused global warming, but they are not reducing their green-house-gas emissions at any convincing speed. Most did not fulfill the Kyoto-Protocol obligations. Nor are they doing much to facilitate climate-relevant action in disadvantaged countries, writes Hans Dembowski, the editor in chief of D+C Development and Cooperation.

This is how the ‘donor countries’ did it. They did it through carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (i.e., emissions produced by human activities). CO2 emissions come from combustion of carbon-based fuels, principally coal, oil, and natural gas, along with deforestation, soil erosion and animal agriculture.

Now, while one does not undermine the value of planting trees as a one of the corrective measures to reduce negative climate change, one thinks that it is fool hardy to think of tree planting as the panacea to climate change, as one has deduce is thought by a significant proportion of ‘elite’ Ugandans.

It is important to clarify, that the kind and volume of deforestation that has had significant negative impact on agriculture is that which is caused by the ‘modernisation neo-liberal narrative,’ the kind which the ‘donor countries’ have donated to us and which Ugandans have fallen for hook line and sinker.

That narrative which equates skyscrapers – as in tall buildings, you know those malls; or many buildings of such material as cement, timber, iron sheets, tiles; often referred to as permanent buildings. Those buildings came to be through significant destruction of the environment.

Permanent buildings come into being through cutting of big trees for timber; mining of the earth for cement, which requires cutting big trees; and making of iron sheets and tiles, which requires significant CO2 emissions. Not to mention the imported materials whose transportation from China contributes greatly to CO2 emissions.

Yes, think of all those ‘investors of the year’ who are glorified for their contribution to the ‘industrialisation’ of Uganda. The dark side is that there contribution to CO2 emissions is a major cause of climate change.

So, the permanent buildings replace trees and vegetation and this is what Uganda calls modern. And yes, that ‘modern way of life’ comes with significant emitters of CO2 – those appliances such as fridges; and, of course motor vehicles.

See how the motor cycle has quickly replaced bicycles even in generally flat areas like Teso. I need not mention those huge guzzler vehicles – such as the ones of the kind the Uganda members of parliament (MPs) received 100 million shillings each of tax payers money to buy.

Oh, and the MPs recently got tax free allowances which will enable them to burn fuel = as in continue to emit CO2 indiscriminately – as in drive from The Parliament buildings to the National Theater – a less than five minute walk; after mostly also emitting serious CO2 in the house – what they say and/or as they digest their eating.

Yes, one can go on and on … but for now, let one end this rant by clarifying its context. On 29th December 2016, one posted the following on one’s face book wall:

Climate change is real. At Alinga Farms we have experienced a long dry spell which has damaged our hibiscus crop. The 2nd season is the best season for hibiscus and this year the rains did not come as planned. The plants are stunted barely reaching knee high when they should be breast high. These are the realities for Ugandans. A certain celebrity’s boob job or skin bleach will make the news but Sahara-Desert-like weather conditions that are causing food insecurity will not. These photos were taken this morning 29th December 2016.

A number of one’s face-book-friends were quick to advise “plant more trees.” One appreciates this advice, which if they knew one’s tree planting activities they would have appreciated that one is already doing so – planting trees – in significant volumes. In fact, in one’s village, one is a kind of a major influencer on matters tree planting.

Be that as it may, one thinks that to respond to a lamentation of the negative effects of climate change with “plant more trees” is like going to a gunfight with a twig as your weapon of choice. The only way in which you win that fight is if it is in an episode of “Game of Thrones”. Just saying.

3 responses to “Planting trees helps, but lifestyle change is what will save the environment”

  1. That is why with the Paris Agreement we expect more than tree-planting through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Unfortunately, Uganda still largely counts in the international community to realise this action. However, citizens need to be aware about this commitment by Uganda in a wide range of action in order to hold the relevant authorities to account and to help speed up climate action from local to national levels, in addition to pushing a more pro-poor focus in its implementation. More – Uganda’s INDC:


    • Thank you Richard for being the first to comment on The Humanist View post in 2017! And moreover, providing me with an excellent source of information. I have immediately noted the following affirmation of my opinion:

      “Uganda has contributed least to the potentially catastrophic build up of the human-derived
      greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere and yet the country is most vulnerable to
      global warming and climate change impacts. (Uganda has one of the lowest green-house gas
      emissions per capita in the world, estimated at 1.39 tons carbon dioxide, far below the global
      average of approximately 7.99 tons of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, Uganda’s contribution t o
      world’s total green-house emission is estimated at 0.099%).”

      This will not continue to hold if we continue to work towards the all ‘modernisation’, ‘industrialisation’ ‘middle-income’ thingy …

      Liked by 1 person

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