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Facing the climate change challenge

Erin Slaven looks at how SCIAF are tackling serious drought in Malawi

WHAT a summer we have had in Scotland this year. Usually the summer holidays unfold under dull, rainy skies and we’re treated to a wee couple of days of sun somewhere inbetween—but not this year! It has been as warm as 33.2C in Motherwell, with the rest of the country closely following.

What a treat! The younger kids got to enjoy the sun during their time off school, and we can finally utilise the garden furniture out the back and dust off the barbecue that’s been lying in the shed for over a year. It is such a pleasant change from the usual dreicht summer set up in Scotland. But perhaps we should be asking questions about these abnormal weather conditions. Genesis 2:15 tells us: “The Lord God took man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

We have a responsibility to look after the land, sky and sea that we have been gifted —but it’s easy to neglect this responsibility.

It’s now instinctive to think of the Arctic, polar bears, melting icecaps and such when someone mentions climate change.

These connotations, however, suggest that it’s not really our problem. A lot of us may think ‘If its happening so far away where the climate is much cooler, what’s it got to do with us?’ It has so much to do with us.

We have to face up to our real contribution to global climate change and ask ourselves, are we really being true guardians of this global garden we call home?

When the hot weather was at its peak, a number of scientists spoke up and issued warnings that this extreme weather was ‘the face of climate change.’

Higher temperatures and longer droughts are a few examples of some of the ways in which climate change will impact humans during our life. These hot temperatures may be pleasant (for some!) to bask in during our summer holidays in a country where we have access to clean water and other privileges—but what is happening beyond our borders?

The World Health Organisation estimates that climate change will claim 2,500 lives a year from 2030 to 2050 because of malnutrition, heat stress, malaria and diarrhoea—almost all of these lives will be from developing countries.

The impact which climate change causes on weather is a major factor in this,wreaking havoc with the irrigation crops which many families depend on to survive. It is those who contribute the least to the destruction of the environment that suffer the most.

Scotland’s international Catholic aid agency SCIAF have done some amazing work fighting climate change. The charity’s communication officer Val Morgan told me: “In Malawi, we’ve helped communities build solar-powered irrigation schemes that enable them to produce more food than ever before, while in Latin America we’re helping farmers to capture more rainwater to compensate for shortages in droughts.”

SCIAF are an admirable, hands-on charity who continue to aid developing countries in many ways. It may seem like a pipedream for us to make such a change as the example set by SCIAF, but we can help. At the beginning of September, SCIAF will be launching a new campaign for supporters where we can all take part and take action. Keep an eye on for more information over the next few weeks.


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