Africa Needs to Know the Weather

"It is a difficult proposition, drafting a weather map for a country that has never seen one."

Weather in East Africa is a myth. Limited access to mass media plus simple and predicable meteorological patterns have conspired to make the climate inherent, social knowledge. December to February of each year is a dry season, as is June to October. The rest of the year is wet. "These patterns have always been reliable, so much so that the burgeoning newspaper industries in Uganda and Kenya did not bother to print even the most cursory of weather maps-until now.Years riddled with misplaced climate disasters-including last year's disastrous floods in the usually dry month of August that displaced thousands in Uganda-have convinced the Daily Monitor, the leading independent newspaper in Uganda, and the Daily Nation, Kenya's paper of record, to revisit the weather map question. I know because they asked me to design the map.
It is a difficult proposition, drafting a weather map for a country that has never seen one.
It is a difficult proposition, drafting a weather map for a country that has never seen one. Not that it is a bad idea. Uganda is a fundamentally agrarian society-over 80 percent of its 30 million citizens are involved in agriculture-so the people are more dependent on the vagaries of the heavens than many places in this world. But I can't help but feel the hefty irony of making a map for a country the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently included on a list of the 100 most vulnerable countries. My bright and relentlessly cheery "sunny" icon belies the depth of desperation of a third-world country bearing the brunt of what the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, calls an "act of aggression" perpetrated by the rich world against the poor world-in other words, drought caused by global warming brought on by the first-world's excessive use of resources. My lovingly detailed "partly cloudy" icons could just as easily portend the flooding of thousands of mud homes and attendant displacement, famine, and death just as easily as an afternoon shower.I felt, and still feel, overwhelmed by the inadequacy of it all. I started to think about the perfect weather map of the continent, an utterly honest map that takes into account sub-Saharan Africa's unique but perilous position in the world. I think it would look a little something like the map below.

The Next Century

SAHARA DESERT: 5-7% increase in arid/semi-arid land by 2080 as Saharan dunes shift southMT. KILIMANJARO: Ice fields, already reduced more than 80%, are likely to disappear between 2015-2020WEST AFRICA: With more than 40% of the population living in coastal cities, predicted flooding in 2080 in the Accra/Niger delta could put more than 50 million people at riskSOUTH AFRICA: A Kruger Park study estimates a 66% loss of zebra and nyala
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet