When something goes wrong, those with greater resources cope better. So it’s no surprise that Africans are the furious ones and the developed world’s citizens are the most complacent about climate change. Too bad rich tourists heading on safari: you’re about to experience it square on.
I think practically everyone in the world will agree on one climate change outcome: weather is more extreme. Summers are hotter, winters are colder, winds are stronger, rains are heavier, and periods of beautiful calm are often longer. Extremes.
Idiots argue that man has little to do with this, and non-idiot poorly informed believe even if man has little to do with this, there’s little he can do to abate it. Wrong. Wrong, of course. And this dog-headed refusal to accept simple science is found mostly in the developed world, where hotter summers and heavier snows are annoying, but not catastrophic. Yet.
In Tanzania last weekend heavy rains fell once again in the north over the important safari circuit. Three bridges were destroyed, the beautiful Manyara escarpment lost much in a landslide, Serena Manyara Lodge was partially destroyed, a half dozen people were killed and hundreds hurt, and right now you can’t drive normally into the Serengeti from any airport in northern Tanzania.
The rains have laid waste a beautiful paved road – the only one – that links Tanzania’s Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti national parks with the main metropolis of Arusha and Tanzania’s main northern airport. The road was built with Japanese aid money in 2007, completing an already improved gravel road built in 2003.
Before then overland safaris into the Serengeti were much different than they were post last weekend. Either you flew, missing so many beautiful sights along the way, or added a day or two to your itinerary to make sure you could get over the Manyara escarpment.
It’s unclear if Tanzania has the wherewithal today to repair the current mess, which is massive. The very important December holiday season is extremely heavily booked, and I doubt seriously that the roads can be repaired by then. And the greater question looms: you repair it at phenomenal cost, now, and then what about the next heavy rains?
This is happening as the Durban Conference on Climate Change goes on, and on, and on, and on. This is the conference that created the Kyoto Protocol, the nearest and now decaying world treaty to deal with climate change. For the first time in the conference’s 20-year history, no U.S. lawmakers are present.
And the all but dead Kyoto Protocol, which the world’s top polluters the U.S. and China never signed, may get its nail-in-the-coffin as reports circulate that Canada will celebrate the current conference by withdrawing from the treaty.
This particular road is important to tourists, but it’s more important to local commerce, students going to school, farmers preparing fields. It’s not just tourism, of course, that suffers from climate change. Droughts are more frequent and so famine is more frequent. Floods are more frequent, so development is drowned, diseases spread.
Africa can’t cope. And when Africa doesn’t cope big time, the developed world is pulled into the mess as rescuer of last resort at great expense. This is getting boring, it’s happening so often, and nobody seems to have a long enough vision to realize ultimately that the world as a whole – that means us – is hurt by climate change as much if not more than Wall Street banks and housing bubbles.
Try to spin this one, Mr. T. Party.
The weather change however disastrous the rains may be…… no one on African soil is crying of hunger. every one is happy. this is the best time to see the wildlife or they get out of their caves to get sunshine….
Lets just look at the best side of that rains because non of us would like that scorching sun with many hunger death.
I can’t agree with you more about the impacts of climate change but I can give you first hand a bit more information about this latest problem. I was there on Sunday morning on my way to the airport and drove that entire road prior to arriving at Mto wa mbu and finding that I had to walk across the river, bags on the heads of my friends from Gibb’s Farm. I made it easily across and found a car going to Arusha. I lived there for 8 years prior to 2007 when that bridge was completed and I can tell you that it washed out every year almost without fail. The road is in tack up the escarpment and the damage to the Serena was the lost of one water tank, their pump station and unfortunately one security guard that was at the pump house. I went there prior to crossing the road to consider my options. Prior to that bridge being build the government would simply fill in the river with stone and drive across until another bridge could be built, they will do it again I’m sure and likely have by now. The Tanzanian’s are some of the most resilient people I have ever met. Tourism and the Tanzanian’s will not be stopped, it is simply another inconvenience that adds to ones adventure for now. For the long term, the best thing they could do it to figure out how to access and utilize enough of the funds taken in from tourism to properly maintain that road, the run off from it and the culverts needed to prevent this from happening. If they don’t it is just a matter of time till, as you point out we have to go back to the days of taking anywhere from 3-6 hours to get from Arusha to Karatu.
I drove back to Arusha over that bridge about 12 hours after the first deluge – only half was destroyed at that stage – see attached pic. Looks like there was another downpour …….. We have a trip needing to use that road in late Dec so I hope something gets done …… sure it will.
Director IntoAfrica UK Ltd
Click Here for Chris’ photo of the washed out Makuyuni/Manyara road.
The photo of the mudslide was at the base of the escarpment at Mto Wa Mbu and this was cleared by 17.00 on the same day to allow single file traffic to pass. Since then there has been no further problem and all our clients have travelled as normal to and from The Serengeti since that day. We always have flash floods and bridges washed away although the landslide at Mto Wa Mbu was more serious and the effect on the local people there has been dire. However scaring tourists away does not help them. Manyara Serena has NOT been washed away and we sent our clients there the day it happened for lunch and to overnight as we were uncertain when the road would reopen. However we had people schedule to drive from Arusha through Mto Wa Mbu to Ngoorngoro on Monday 24th and they went and reached their lodges without a problem.
Hi Jim …just been on the road. It’s fine not an issue.
CEO, Safari Legacy
In response to your blog about climate change in the SERENGETI——
Ray and I spent 3 days in the Northern Serengeti near Masai Mara, but in Tanzania. We stayed at the Serengeti Migration Camp on November 15, 16 & 17. Everything was extremely green and the rivers full of water. We heard the hippos bellowing down in the river, but they had had so much rain that the road down to the river was partially washed out and extremely muddy, so that we could not go down to see them. We saw MANY ANIMALS in two days of game drives—-two leopards, three cheetahs, at least 20 lions, lots of giraffe, wildes and zebbies, cape buffalo–ugh, I don’t like them!–gazelle, impala, eland, dik dik, jackals, rock hyrax, monkeys, baboons, etc. The ONLY animals we didn’t see or hear at all were elephants!!! No one really offered an explanation of why except that possibly because of ALL THE RAIN they had moved some miles South of where we were????
Judy and Ray McCaskey