Category Archives: Letters

The Islander, forests, water, urbanism and its effects.

Wood products used in buildings.

Let us discuss some science in a shorter format. The world has just celebrated the world water and forest day a few day ago. Unfortunately, i forgot to change my facebook profile to imitate the trend.  All said and done humans have been linked to a massive change in climatic conditions because of our consumptive nature.

The result climate-related changes and effects on the comfort of the urban residents. Currently, in Kenya, the heat wave has reached alarming rate in Mombasa and Nairobi as the weatherman warns against heat stroke.

Climatic changes have also led to shifts in available water for use and consumption effectively affecting the availability of food and food production. I will not dwell much on the links for today.

However, the celebration of these two events especially the world forest day is a major step towards keeping our environment safe from the adverse effects of climate-related changes. Research suggests that

  • Some 15-18% of global carbon emissions are from forest loss and land-use change – mainly in the tropics.
  • More carbon is released into the atmosphere than what comes from the fossil fuel-intensive global transport sector.
  • In many developing countries, emissions from land-use change account for 60-90% of total national emissions especially the cut and burn processes.

The coastal urbanite and climate effects

Urbanization according to Brittanica is the process by which large numbers of people become permanently concentrated in relatively small areas, forming cities. Coastal areas attract a large number of people to the small cities due to the allure of the coasts. This concentration is a major factor in the increase of emissions in the atmosphere as the world works hard to reduce it.

The effects of the large urban population along this towns include:

  • Urban climate, urban heat island (UHI) effect
  • Changes in land surface temperature when vegetation is replaced with parking lots, streets, buildings.
  • car emiisionUHIs can produce secondary effects on local meteorology, including the altering of local wind patterns, the development of clouds and fog, the humidity, and the rates of precipitation.
  • Urban areas can be up to 8 degrees warmer than surrounding suburban or natural landscapes

Forests and the saving of the Islander

Over a hundred-year time span, forest residues cause the least climate impact, but they still heat the atmosphere by 20–40 times compared to the amount of energy it produces. Natural gas heats the atmosphere 100–110 times and coal 170–190 times the amount of energy they produce.

Cleared mangroves at Lamu

Tropical forests are important in addressing global climate change.  At the global level, forest ecosystems could play a significant role in atmospheric carbon sequestration.

On the other hand, vulnerable poor communities depend on forest goods and services to adapt to impacts of climate change at the national and local levels.

Tropical forests are considered as safety nets as they provide several goods and services to help people survive in times of crisis. These crises include drought or flood-induced crop failures, poor health, energy shortage and climate change through carbon filtering (sequestering).

Sustainably managing forests to both provide for social benefits (fuel, fodder), as well as environmental benefits (ecosystem services) is a definite move towards climate mitigation. Forests weather close to the Islands as in mangroves forests, or the tropical forests example the Kakamega forest, assures sustainability and environmental-friendly,  cities through green initiatives as well as providing the required services for humanity to exist.


The climate discussion: A letter to the second Kenyatta

Mombasa 2Sometimes being a county man has its high and low sides. First I am  Kenyan by birth I tend to think and by naturalization as well. The country has beautiful and excellent resources leave alone the footprint. Kenya will forever be glued into people’s mind all for the good and sometimes for the bad reasons including the exploits on the track and field events, Mbalula the sports minister South Africa knows this well and, of course, the Obama factor. For today, I will leave the Kenyan beautiful experience for expounding on the commentary. My interest being the environmental sustainability of our coastal beautiful tourist attractive cities of Mombasa and lamu. As research is still going on and burning the midnight oil to keep this city up to international standards when we talk about climate change, especially sea level rise and the threat of inundation.

At around 2:30 am 22nd August 1978 I was hardly a year old the founding father of Kenya Mzee Jomo Kenyatta soul departed from the earth in the beautiful Mombasa island. Like the Africans would say, the spirit was around at least three days before the grim reaper carried it off to unknown destinations ( a subject I will leave to the pastors and priests to debate). I want to imagine that the last moments of the old Man saw the beautiful palm trees, and the calm thundering of the ocean as he went to bed that night never to wake up again. The feeling makes me want to be in Mombasa forever, it’s a city with a great attachment to the birth and the growth of Kenya as a country. I wonder if the founding father would be smiling from the earth yonder, when we allow climate-related disturbances to wipe out the city of Mombasa. What is he telling his son, the other Kenyatta the current president of Kenya? I would wonder if The late Prof Ali Mazrui buried a walk away fro the state house where the founding fathers soul departed, would have relaxed and settled to know that climate change is threatening the survival of Mombasa island. It is these reflections that make me quickly conclude, effort needs to be made to make sure that does not happen. That sea level changes will not find the island of Mombasa and Lamu unprepared.

Several professionals have significantly studied a message from the Minister of Environment of Paris (my condolences for their loss) the climate change phenomena. These include anthropologists physiologists and historian who have shown a relationship between humans and nature. Biologists have confirmed that biodiversity is being affected by the changes in the climate; climatologists are proving that the weather patterns are changing daily. Planners are telling us that a new thinking is required for Island nations survival. Otherwise, the concept of internally displaced climate refugees is not far fetched. A combination of action is emphasized so that action can take place, to avoid a scenario where we are not making changes in our daily activities that are affecting as climate deniers still exist. The 43 members states through Banki Moon have insisted that there’s the ability to speed up severely binding agreements, to reduce atmospheric gases and injection of fossil fuel residue into the environment.

Mombasa 3The spirit is towards a low carbon economy; there can’t be climate efficiency without climatic responsibility, from energy efficiency to clean smart energy networks, carbon capture, green energy, green building and architecture energy saving, active transport among others. The fifths IPCC evaluation report, call upon sectoral policies and regional and national forums to lessen the impacts of climate change.

Two-thirds of the global population in 2050 Will be in cities we need to work on smart cities to make the globe a better place, e.g., a low carbon economy not as a disaster but an opportunity to hold on and improve the lives. In many countries, Parliament is passing legislation to save landscapes, energy efficiency and saving and preparing for power use without oil and protecting our biodiversity and landscapes. Climate systems are complex with different angles and different disciplinary angles and need this kind of management to achieve a cleaner world.
Mombasa and Lamu island would do well if smart and clean energy options are enhanced, so that forever, we keep the legacy of this mound of soil that is home to many including the soul of the departed founder Father of the Nation.