Climate Change Centre
ADMAPE's Climate Change Centre in the town of Leqceiba, built in 2003.
Learning to plough with a donkey plough which is far more efficient than working the land by hand and cheaper than hiring in tractors.
This irrigation farmer is showing how the rice crop to his right which has been grown using compost is superior to the one on the left which used chemilcal fertilisers.
Engaging with pastoralists and training individuals to pass on livestock health knowledge and trat animals within their communities.
Women's groups have been show how to produce natural insecticides using the leaf of the neem tree.
Women's groups show great keenness for market gardening.
Please see LATEST NEWS for updates and details of activities undertaken from the Climate Change Centre.
Local partner ADMAPE’s physical Climate Change Centre in the small rural town of Leqceiba in the Gorgol region of southern Mauritania (see Home Page map) is the point from which all our work is carried out. From here farmers and farming communities are assisted in four main ways: with improved and adapted farming practices; with management and organisational training; with knowledge and awareness-raising about the issues which affect their lives; and with access to and collaboration with the governmental and other agencies that have influence over the development and rights of local people.
ADMAPE’s Climate Change Centre is known as such because climate change in the Sahel (the region just south of the Sahara in which we work) is so central to the problems faced by local populations and therefore integral to all the work we do. Starting with the great droughts of the 1970's and '80's that destroyed most of the inhabitants' livestock, climatic patterns have changed drastically in the Sahel, affecting every aspect of life.
Over ninety percent of tree cover has disappeared and drought, often interspersed with biblical downpours, is now the norm. Often an entire season's precipitation will occur over the period of a few days, leading to unprecedented flood levels.
Whole crops are washed away by these floods; roads and buildings are destroyed and, most importantly, water management infrastructure such as watercourses and dams are damaged. The increased temperatures that have come with climate change also lead to greater moisture evaporation and impacted soils; increasingly, violent storms and strong winds lead to loss of topsoils, which are also leached by water run-off.
Meanwhile, drought leads to repeated crop failure and the reduction of pasture meaning animal herders must travel further and further with their livestock to find grazing. Concentrations of livestock in areas that have had better rainfall can lead to conflict between farmers and herders.
These problems make it hard for local people to create economically viable livelihoods. Their communities become demoralised and vulnerable to exploitation as they no longer have the ability to create the economic and political units required to stand up for themselves. Their land can be misappropriated in Land Grabs; middle men from other communities control the prices of inputs such as seeds and fertiliser ; they loose influence over markets and marketing; they become marginalised and discriminated against.
ADMAPE’s work with such farming communities has been developed over many years and aims to give some control back to local people over their lives. This means talking to communities about climate change and its related issues, helping them set up administrative units such as cooperatives and village councils, involving them in local or regional seminars. It means researching and demonstrating agricultural practices that are more suited to the changing climate and helping farmers adopt them. It means training and agricultural research and resource provision. And it means engaging with local government and coordinating an enhanced relationship between them and the farmers.
Introducing the use of donkey ploughs, testing new seed varieties, demonstrating a technique for water harvesting; promoting a system of natural tree regeneration, helping rice farmers learn to diversify, or organising a meeting between farmer representatives and a governmental agricultural development agency : the activities that take place at the climate change centre, like these and many others, are holistic, adaptive and effective.
Some comments about climate change
I want to testify today about what I believe is a planetary emergency - a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth.
Al Gore, testifying on the impact of global warming before US congress.
Africa: By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change; by 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%. Agricultural production, including access to food, in many African countries is projected to be severely compromised .... By 2080, an increase of 5 to 8% of arid and semi-arid land in Africa is projected under a range of climate scenarios (TS).
IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) Fourth Assessment Summary for Policymakers.
Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can’t afford the risk of inaction.
The current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 385 parts per million. This compares with a figure of some 315ppm around 1960 .... Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that can persist for hundreds of years in the atmosphere, absorbing infrared radiation and heating the atmosphere ....Most predictions suggest that global temperatures will rise by 2C to 4C over the century.
Robin McKie, Climate Change in Figures, the Observer.
The last time the world was 4-5 degrees above where we are now was 30-50 million years ago, when much of the planet was a swampy forest .... the location of many species, including humans, would be radically different and many would not survive ..
Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Report on Climate Change, in his book: Blueprint for a Safer Planet (Bodley Head).
Scientists say continued emissions will cause the planet to heat up further. To work out how much, they use computer models based on the programs used to predict the weather. These models are not perfect, and struggle to simulate some features of the climate system such as clouds. To get around this, the scientists run many different versions and pool the results. The computer models predict that if emissions continue to rise at the present rate, average temperatures will most likely increase by 4C by 2100. There are uncertainties, though - for example, the planet’s oceans, forests and soils could release their massive stocks of carbon as the world warms, leading to much greater temperature rises than human emissions alone would cause.
David Adams, Environment Correspondent, the Guardian.
The phrase “tipping point” is heard a lot more from scientists. This is where a small amount of warming sets off unstoppable changes, for example the melting of the ice caps. Once the temperature rises a certain amount then all the ice caps will melt. The tipping point in many scientists’ view is the 2C rise that the EU has adopted as the maximum limit that mankind can risk. Beyond that, as unwelcome changes in the earth’s reaction to extra warmth continue, it is theoretically possible to trigger runaway climate change, making the earth’s atmosphere so different that most of life would be threatened.
Paul Brown, author of Global Warming: The Last Chance for Change
By the time global temperatures reach four degrees, much of humanity will be short of water for drinking and irrigation: glaciers in the Andes and Himalayas, which feed river systems on which tens of millions depend, will have melted, and their rivers will be seasonally running dry. Whole weather systems like the Asian monsoon (which supports 2 billion people) may alter irrevocably. Deserts will have spread into Mediterranean Europe, across most of southern Africa and the western half of the United States. Higher northern latitudes will be plagued with regular flooding. Heatwaves of unimaginable ferocity will sear continental landscapes: the UK would face the kind of summer temperatures found in northern Morocco today. The planet would be in the throes of a mass extinction of natural life approaching in magnitude that at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65m years ago, when more than half of global biodiversity was wiped out. Four degrees of warming would also cross many of the “tipping points” which so concern climate scientists: the Amazon rainforest would likely collapse and burn, as part of a massive further release of carbon from terrestrial ecosystems – the reverse of the current situation, where trees and soils absorb and store a good portion of our annual emissions. Most of the Arctic permafrost will lie in the melt zone, and will be steadily releasing methane, accelerating warming still further. The northern polar ice cap will be a distant memory, and Greenland will be melting so rapidly that sea level rise by the end of the century will be measured in metres rather than centimetres.
Mark Lynas; author of Six Degrees (Harper Perennial).
Temperatures above 5 degrees would lead to human hardship and mass migration on such a scale global turmoil would be inevitable.
Sir Nicholas Stern, Blueprint for a Safer Planet (Bodley Head).
Summer Arctic sea ice is disappearing more than 80 years ahead of IPCC predictions.
Public Interest Research Centre: Climate Safety
The disturbing conclusion, documented in a paper I have written with several of the world’s leading climate experts, is that the safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is no more than 350ppm (parts per million) and it may be less. Carbon dioxide amount is already 385ppm and rising about 2ppm per year ....These conclusions are based on paleoclimate data showing how the Earth responded to past levels of greenhouse gases and on observations showing how the world is responding to today’s carbon dioxide amount. The consequences of continued increase of greenhouse gases extend far beyond extermination of species and future sea level rise .... We must draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide to preserve the planet we know. A level of no more than 350ppm is still feasible, with the help of reforestation and improved agricultural practices, but just barely – time is running out.
James Hansen, climate scientist and director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies
In the journal Science in 2004, Oreskes published the results of a survey of 928 papers on climate change published in peer reviewed journals between 1993 and 2003. She found that three-quarters of the papers either explicitly or implicitly accepted the view expressed in the IPCC 2001 report that human activities have had a major impact on climate change in the last 50 years, and none rejected it.
Royal Society; Facts and Fictions, Climate Change
It’s important to listen to what scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient, especially when it’s inconvenient .
President Barack Obama
If global mean temperature increase is to be stabilized between 2.0-2.4°C, then CO2 emissions must peak by 2015. The cost of such a stringent path of stabilization of the earth’s climate would be very modest, if at all a cost would be incurred. For instance, for this trajectory the cost to the global economy would at most be less than 3% of the global GDP in 2030. In fact there are so many co-benefits from such action that if these were to be fully accounted for then these might actually result in a negative cost, or a net increase in economic output and economic welfare.
IPCC Chairman, Mr Rajendra Pachauri
He [Nicholas Stern] argues that the world can cut emissions by 80% by 2050 by investing just 1% of GDP into transforming how we use and make electricity, travel and live ....With startlingly simple measures like improving insulation and recycling, energy efficiency can be improved. Electric cars and cutting down on air travel will reduce emissions from travel, industry can make massive cuts with changes to its manufacturing processes. Governments can also invest in green technologies, while encouraging their citizens to change their lifestyles through tax reform and education.
Louis Gray, Environment Correspondent, the Daily Telegraph
Can nine billion people be fed? Can we cope with the demands in the future on water? Can we provide enough energy? Can we do it, all that, while mitigating and adapting to climate change? And can we do all that in 21 years time? That’s when these things are going to start hitting in a really big way. We need to act now. We need investment in science and technology, and all the other ways of treating very seriously these major problems. 2030 is not very far away.
Prof John Beddington, UK Chief Scientist
The issue of climate change is one that we ignore at our own peril. There may still be disputes about exactly how much we’re contributing to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushing us to a point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe.
Climate change should be seen as the greatest challenge to face man and treated as a much bigger priority in the United Kingdom.
The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge, but all economies know that the only sensible way of developing is to do it on a sustainable basis.
Some Further Research:
Oliver Tickell: Kyoto 2
Chris Goodall: Ten Technologies to Save the Planet
Nicholas Stern: A Blueprint for a Safer Planet
James Hansen: Storms of my Grandchildren
Global Climate Campaign
Stop Climate Chaos Coalition
Campaign against Climate Change
Christian Aid UK