Climatologists are saying that the decade of the1990's was the warmest since records began being taken. The average temperature worldwide has increased by about a degree or so over that period. to anyone unfamiliar with the science of climatology, That does not sound like a very significant rise in temperature. But, average world wide temperature fluctuations don't normally show that much variation. Such a rise in average worldwide temperature can cause devestating effects for the people of this planet. The recent increase in the numbers and severity of hurricaines and cyclones can be traced back to changes in climate brought about by this temperature increase.
Other less severe, but serious, weather "events" were present in great numbers during this time as well. Although most of the worlds population went on about its business as if nothing had changed, the effects of these events were very real to the thousands who lost their lives, homes, fields and loved ones. As I write this there are thousands of people clinging to trees and roof tops in Mozambique hoping to at least have their children rescued from devestating flood waters. Thousands have already drowned there in the last several days.
These severe climatic events, as bad as they are, hold little danger for the majority of the worlds population. They mainly effect poor people who must live in the worlds flood plains in order to survive. The people living in the midst of great continents such as Europe or North America feel fairly secure with the weather as it is today. They merely turn up the air conditioner an average one degree and go on about what they were doing. Most of these people are not too concerned about what has become known as "Global Warming" Although it is the atmosphere around the globe that is warming and that not at an even pace, this is a good name for what is happening because it is occuring at places around the entire globe we call Earth. This allows scientists to consider average temperature increases instead of having to talk about this increase here and that increase there.
But for others who inhabit the Earth average temperatures are not the biggest concern. For the worlds farmers it is the specific day to day highs and lows that are of most concern. Along with when and how much percipitation they get. It only takes one late frost to kill a farmers entire crop. It only takes one unusually hot month to dry the crop in the field where it stands or one extended dry period. I know, that is the risk farmers take every year. But, if these frost occur over a large area or the drought occurs over an entire wheat belt, or the temperature gets too hot for two or three years in a row, what then? Have you ever heard of the American dust bowl of the 1920's and 1930's? It was nothing when you compare it to what happened in North Africa. I know, North Africa is already a desert. But it was not that long ago that North Africa was the Roman Empire's Wheat Belt. It probably looked something like Kansas with its rolling hills covered as far as the eye can see in wheat bowing on the summer breezes. But, it does not look like that today. The climate changed, just a little and now it is desert.
So, What can be done to turn things around? First of all there needs to be a practical alternative to slash and burn farming techniques that is easily learned quick to begin and yields plentiful crops. The burning of the worlds tropical forests is a major contributor to the "Greenhouse Effect". Another major contributor is the internal combustion engine. If there was a little less greed displayed by the oil companies and the automobile companies emissions could be drastically reduced. The other major contributor to the problem is the smoke put off by industrial plants and power plants. Some World bank loans to implement recent technology would help here.
The reason that the rich and powerfull leaders of the world don't make needed changes is that they don't see global warming as a threat to themselves. In reality, it would not take too much of a change in climate to severly reduce the availability of food. This would have an impact even on the rich. It has in the past and it would in the future.