Dec 18 2011

Great Green Wall for Africa

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 2:32 AM

The idea is spreading that sub-Saharan Africans can take positive steps to reduce the adverse effects of climate change. They are not, in short, doomed, and through their own labors can improve their livelihoods while at the same time making prudent steps to adapt to global warming.

That’s the sub-text of a valuable article by Mark Hertsgaard on the political economy of reforestation along the Sahel-Sahara border lands. Building on the undeniable evidence of small-bore environmental success stories in Africa — of the sort I and Alex Perry of Time magazine have trumpeted over the past year to counteract the new Afro-enviro-pessimism, Hertsgaard tracks a growing movement to support strategic tree-planting on a grand scale — across the entire belly of the continent. The effort has the backing of influential African political leaders and the conditonal support of Western donors. Hertsgaard concludes, “The Great Green Wall is too good an idea to be allowed to fail.”

After years of demeaning and degrading the prospects for Africa’s future on the basis of gloomy environmental forecasts, the refreshing conversion of Hertsgaard, an influential writer on climate change, marks another milestone on Africa’s transformation into a “normal” region. No longer, at least in the hyperbolic arena of environmental calamity, can Africa be written off as a hopeless case. Rather, there’s a growing appreciation that the same kind of everyday tactics of adaptation that, say, Americans must adopt in the years ahead, Africans can and will adopt — and to everyone’s advantage.

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