Monday, 16 November 2015


 A word I did not quite know, until very recently.
 I kept hearing politicians saying threshold, threshold, threshold. Threshold this, threshold that.
The word means strip of wood or metal forming the bottom of a doorway.  In Swahili, that is “kizingiti”, i.e.  kizingiti cha mlango. What fits this article is the second meaning of threshold. A new beginning and era; brink, verge, debut, inception, point, dawn. The start.
According to Thesaurus dictionary, the opposite of threshold is conclusion, death, end, finish, completion.

Early this week I heard the word through BBC news when the presenter was talking about the next global environment conference in Paris.  Simply called COP21, the United Nations led event aims to continue discussions for climate change from 30th November to 11th December. Paris will be attended by 196 countries “including many of their leaders...”
Other conferences have been in Copenhagen and most famous Rio de Janeiro 1992. Why famous? I think most of us in developing countries started paying more attention around the 1992 conference. Before Rio 1992, our concerns were poverty, education, health, stuff like that...
Times have changed since then.
Wherever we are, rich and poor, planet earth is demanding serious attention.

To begin with the general facts. Our earth temperature is calculated at 15 Centigrade. Scientists are concerned that we have been warming up since the Industrial Revolution due to carbon emissions. This warming up has in recent years, caused weather fluctuations. The fluctuations come from the warming up because of energy in the atmosphere of our planet as it revolves around the sun. The right word is “green house effect” otherwise known as global warming. It is the way our planet traps energy from the sun that makes it habitable. Any drop in temperature to say, 30 Centigrade will make our world trek towards Mars, Jupiter and other inhabitable planets.
What scientists have been warning for decades is that we have (and are) contributing to this “global warming” through factories and agriculture. The natural destruction of forests contributes to this as well as release of chemical gases (Carbon Dioxide and Methane for example).  Since the Industrial Revolution shot off three centuries back, carbon dioxide emissions have escalated by thirty percent and methane over 120 percent, so we are told.  Although the levels have been rising up gradually since 1750, the sudden changes in global warming have been drastic 1980s onwards. BBC sources allege this elevation is greater than in the last 800,000 years.

So where is this word “threshold “fitting in?
Let us peruse the evidence.
Temperatures of our planet have soared by 0.8 Centigrade in the last hundred years.  This increase has caused ocean levels to rise and some of the coldest areas in the furthest north and south tip of our planet to melt. It has affected animal and vegetation life, i.e.  Crops growing or producing seeds faster than normal. Changes that are more obvious are the way winds; rain and temperatures have become unpredictable, lately.
There is also the upsurge of unusual climate diseases like allergies by pollutants, skin problems, asthma in children and Wazee, etc. In towns like Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Dodoma, Kampala or Nairobi where many cars (and petrol fumes) roam, the addition of dust and dirt definitely contributes to these “new diseases”, e.g. constant sneezing and coughing.

The BBC report warns, “Warming set to breach the 1 Centigrade Thresholds”...
As we saw earlier, threshold is limit, verge and minimum point.
Quoting the UK’s Meteorological Office data, the report alleges, “Figures from January to September this year are already 1.02 Centigrade above the average between 1850 to 1900. If temperatures remain as predicted, 2015 will be the first year to breach this threshold. The world would then be half way towards 2 Centigrade the gateway to dangerous warming.”
Why dangerous?
Things will be irreversible. Once it passes the threshold, we cannot do anything about it.
Few of us notice when the media presents us with such serious warnings. We are too busy with day-to-day activities and putting food on the table.
Politicians should be passing more strict policies to help, hence the Paris meeting.
However, as individuals we should play a part. If you drive a car, make sure you switch off when not moving. I have seen motorists parked for ages with the engine running as they chatter away on their phones. We spoke about throwing litter and plastic two months ago. Leaving the television on when we are not watching is another. A constant awareness of the dangers of warming up planet earth should be part of our daily life style.
 If you are reading this, please start acting now!

 All pics by author

            Published in Citizen Tanzania - Friday 13th November, 2015.

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