• Tip of the (melting) iceberg

    Tip of the (melting) iceberg

    If, against all odds, we actually manage to protect Earth from the effects of excessive global warming, that would be extremely good news. The bad news, however, is that doing so could hit Africa right where it hurts – the pocket.

    Experts are adamant that to keep temperatures within the ‘safe’ zone, the planet simply cannot afford to burn more than 886 gigatons (Gt) of CO2 between 2000 and 2050 – as per the global carbon budget. By 2011, however, the world economy had already used up more than a third of this budget, leaving around just 565 Gt for the remaining 35 years.

    If scientists are unable to come up with technology that enables the capture and storage of CO2, Africa could lose out on a massive amount of natural wealth. In short, it would mean that a big chunk of the oil, gas and especially coal in Africa would have to remain in the ground, instead of being exploited.

    It could affect more than 20% of Africa’s proven oil reserves (equivalent to those of Angola, Chad, Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon). More than 30% of the continent’s natural gas reserves and nearly 90% of its coal would also go untapped, according to a Mail & Guardian report.

    18 August 2015
    Image: Gallo/GettyImages