Pan African Connection
Bringing Literacy, Education and Development to disadvantaged communities across Africa
Global Warming/Climate Change
As a personal statement I have to say I was a late comer to the scientific observation of global warming.
For 18 years at our house we used firewood to heat in the winter. Midway through those years we
installed a central wood fired furnace, only in the last few years was it combined with a gas central
The reasons for using firewood were very simple, it was available; it was inexpensive and it provided the
necessary level of comfort in the winter, even though the summer's work to get the firewood ready was
everything else but comfortable.
But my own lateness in accepting the reality of global warming and climate change was the historical
record of rapid changes to the world’s climate as evidenced in ice cores from the poles and glaciers.
One study showed a quick change to an ice age in as little as 20 years! But since then the evidence has
accumulated rather rapidly and the effects predicted under different models have become real weather
events. So then, what is the connection between this fact and poverty in Africa?
Part of the reluctance in underdeveloped economies to engage the issues of global warming head-on
is the lack of uptake of the information now available. While sufficient lip service in paid to this issue,
very few concrete steps are taken towards its effective management. Those in the know in Africa are not
dealing with the issue; what can be expected of poor communities? Even urban areas still have
sizeable reliance on charcoal for some of the basic necessities, like cooking, boiling water, warming
water and even ironing clothes. Many areas do not have electricity as they do not have the connection
fees to pay for it, besides the fact that there is a net shortage of electricity across the tier of nations
comprising Southern Africa.
One of the connections to the poor communities is that as long as they perceive that the “government” is
not providing them with electricity, they have no incentive to change their ways. The economics in real
terms are not available to them to make any changes. Fossil fuel use is both literally and economically
Across southern Africa there are now entities that have started to sell biofuels. Solar mini-installations
are proliferating, of these last ones; many are a simple one solar panel and one battery. They are used
at night to power lights and especially true: television and entertainment devices. People will spend
money on things that will bring them material comfort.
To the developed world efforts to increase the use of renewable forms of energy use across the poor
communities is a win, win situation. The idea of carbon trading is a good one but one that lacks a lot of
ground before it can benefit the poor communities in Africa. Once affordability and availability are true,
these remote communities will readily soak-up the use of alternative fuels. The concept of a
comprehensive approach that Pan-African Connection is promoting into the vulnerable communities,
allows for long term loans at very modest interest rates, to install the power requirements for the
community center (or school building) that houses the electronics and classroom equipment.
There are also NGO’s building facilities in communities to grow their own biofuels with the intent that
they produce enough for their own power requirements and sell the rest. While these efforts are good, it
should be realized that you still have CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Greater reliance on
solar, wind and eventually biodiesel powered fuel cells is what is needed in these areas.
Productive and yet green development in rural Africa is both desirable and achievable. The real net
gains in scientific methods of resource management, economics, comfort and leisure will help us all
be full members of the fight on harmful emissions and safeguard these remote communities against
the worst effects of global warming. The positive effects of Globalization and Free Trade can help these
communities attain power more economically.
The ongoing studies and continued acquisition of data on global warming issues; along with bringing
the level of education up in these remote communities will help us all more quickly field the changes to
methods and practices that will actually yield positive results, while at the same time these
economically empowered and informed communities become positive participants in the fight to lower