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Prognosis Is Poor for Africa's Rare Glaciers

The 3 are expected to be gone by the 2040s
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 19, 2021 6:27 PM CDT
Prognosis Is Poor for Africa's Last Mountain Glaciers
In this Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 file photo, a herd of adult and baby elephants walks in the dawn light as the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, sits topped with snow in the background, seen from Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

(Newser) – Africa’s last three mountain glaciers will disappear in the next two decades because of climate change, a new report warned Tuesday amid sweeping forecasts of pain for the continent that contributes least to global warming but will suffer from it most. The report from the World Meteorological Organization and other agencies, released ahead of the UN climate conference in Scotland that starts Oct. 31, is a grim reminder that Africa’s 1.3 billion people remain "extremely vulnerable" as the continent warms more, and at a faster rate, than the global average. And yet Africa’s 54 countries are responsible for less than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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The new report seizes on the shrinking glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda as symbols of the rapid and widespread changes to come, reports the AP. "Their current retreat rates are higher than the global average. If this continues, it will lead to total deglaciation by the 2040s," it says. The New York Times reports the glacier on Mount Kenya could vanish a decade prior, with the report noting that would establish it as "one of the first entire mountain ranges to lose glaciers due to human-induced climate change."

The Times quotes the head of the UN World Food Program as recently describing Africa as "an area of the world that has contributed nothing to climate change, but now, they’re the ones paying the highest price." Indeed, by 2030, up to 118 million extremely poor people, or those living on less than $1.90 a day, "will be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat in Africa if adequate response measures [to deal with climate change] are not put in place," Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko with the African Union Commission writes in the report. Already, the UN has warned that the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar is one where “famine-like conditions have been driven by climate change.” And it says parts of South Sudan are seeing the worst flooding in almost 60 years. (Read more climate change stories.)

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