Victoria Falls – forewarning of things to come if we do not change?

“A stark reminder of what climate change is doing to our environment”.
– Edgar Lungu, President of Zambia


Editor’s Note: If there is a biblical story with direct relevance to our age of Climate Breakdown is it surely that of Noah in Genesis Chapter 6-9. Noah pleaded for the people and God gave him ample opportunity to convince them to change their ways or face the devastation of a threatened flood. But no one listened until it was too late. 

COP 25 in Madrid had a resonance to that story. Climate deniers, lead by the USA and Brazil, frustrated the outcome. In the end, the compromise reached fell well short of what scientists are telling us is necessary if we are to keep the earth’s temperature from exceeding the 1.5% necessary to stop us reaching a tipping point beyond which there will be no returns. The scientists are also warning us that the consequences will be catastrophic.

We are already seeing signs of what lies ahead. And, perhaps, a visually stark and alarming wake-up call is the drying of one of most famous waterfalls on Earth. 

News outlets across the globe carried eerie photographs and footage of one of Africa’s most iconic landmarks, the Victoria Falls, reduced to a trickle. 

The Falls, located in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe are known in the Lozi Bantu language as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’, meaning “The Smoke that Thunders”. However, in recent weeks their thunder has been silenced, their mist has evaporated and their perennial rainbows have disappeared.

Recalling a visit to the Falls in full flow some years ago Fr. Tom Curran SMA recalled: “I felt – like Moses before the burning bush – that I was standing on holy ground and that the only appropriate response was a sense of awe and silence.”

The drought affecting the Victoria Falls is yet another sign of the impact of Global Warming and the negative impact human interaction with nature is having on the Earth’s climate and the environment. 

In their News Story of the Week the Guardian Newspaper carried a Reuters report (7 December 2019) reporting the impact that Climate Change is having on Southern Africa with the Victoria Falls a dramatic and visual reminder of what lies before us if the world, especially those in the northern hemisphere, and emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India, do not stop using fossil fuels.

The report quoted the Zambian president, Edgar Lungu, who has called the drying of the falls “a stark reminder of what climate change is doing to our environment”.

Richard Beilfuss, head of the International Crane Foundation, who has studied the Zambezi for the past three decades, told the Guardian that he believed climate change was delaying the monsoon, “concentrating rain in bigger events, which are then much harder to store, and a much longer, excruciating dry season”.

The Reuters report said that as world leaders gathered in Madrid for the COP25 climate change conference to discuss ways to halt catastrophic warming caused by human-driven greenhouse gas emissions, southern Africa is already suffering some of its worst effects – with taps running dry and about 45 million people in need of food aid amid crop failures.

You may read the full Guardian article by clicking here. 

Previous articleA Most Welcoming Parish by Alan Whelan
Next article4th Sunday of Advent 2019 – Year A