Climate Changes Road

Climate Changes Road

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.