Alex Perry, the devoted Africa correspondent for Time magazine, has published a valuable report on how smart adaptations to climate-change are already benefitng rural Africans. The article is entitled, appropriately, “land of hope.” And the subtitle explains that despite spreading deserts, “innovative policies can push the deserts back.”
Rather than a doomsday wipe-out predicted by many professional “Afro-pessimists,” Perry forsees diverse benefits to Africans from adapting creatively and boldly to lowered rainfalls and higher temperatures in much of Africa. Reporting from landlocked and drought-prone Niger, he finds much evidence on the ground of expanding forests and booming agriculture, based on wiser use of land and the limited water available.
Perry’s article is all the more impressive because his positive viewpoint today contrasts sharply with a prominent report in 2008 where he linked an upswing in wars and political violence in Africa to climate change. To be sure, parts of Africa will fail to respond adequately to the challenge of climate change — and more conflict may result in these places. But Perry’s article shows that there’s growing awareness of a broad powerful trend that I’ve been writing about for some time — along with other astute observers of the real Africa. Or rather, let’s let Perry make this point that pessimism about climate change and Africa is “plain wrong.” My intellectual allies, he writes, “argue, paradoxically, that climate change may be the chance Africa needs.”
As Perry writes eloquently: