Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Dying gods: Mt Kenya’s disappearing glaciers spread violence below

Please read the whole article at the following link, which gives human examples of how it the problem is hurting people and causing conflict.

By Daniel Wesangula in Karatina
Published on 02/08/2017, 12:20pm


From the snow-capped mountain came folklore; came tales of bravery and bounty handed down from generation to generation. But more importantly, from the glaciers near the summit, which rises to more than 5,000m above sea level, came streams that fed into bigger streams that fed into rivers that gave life to everything that lay around the mountain; including Gitaru, his neighbours in Karatina region, friends and some enemies too.


“The ice is melting away. The rivers flowing from the glaciers are not as full as they used to be. Some have dried up. And this is causing conflict downhill,” Kenyan environmentalist and chairman of Kenya’s Water Towers Management Authority Isaac Kalua says.


The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that only 10 of the 18 glaciers that covered the mountain’s summit a century ago remain, leaving less than one third of the previous ice cover. The Lewis Glacier, the largest on Mt Kenya, has decreased by 90% in volume since 1934, with the highest rates of ice volume loss occurring around the turn of the century.

“When the melting starts, rivers first experience high flows because of the melting ice,” says Kalua. “But this subsequently reduces because the glaciers never really recover like they did before climate change became a reality. Because of this, there is less and less water in the rivers in the years that follow.”

Kenya, like many African countries is highly vulnerable to climate change because of its exposure to increasing temperatures and rainfall variability and its dependence on agriculture.

“Any change in anything that could affect this subsistence agriculture almost always ends in conflict,” Kalua says.


Kalua says the continued melting of the Mt Kenya glacier can only make things worse for the communities living around it.

“We cannot do anything about it,” he says. “It is not our problem. We are not responsible for the massive emissions responsible for global glacial melts. But we are suffering the consequences.”


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