That is, ‘carbon footprints.’ A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gasses produced. There is by now considerable evidence that global warming has been caused by a build-up of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. These gasses, primarily carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, are emitted during the large-scale burning of fossil fuels throughout the world.
In Uganda as a whole, four per cent of rural households had access to electricity in 2005. Given that Apac is one of the most rural and poorest districts of the country, this figure is probably quite characteristic for most homes here today. Women fuel their stoves with charcoal or firewood and students do their homework at night in the light of paraffin lamps. Even in the town of Apac are the evenings so dark that the Milky Way appears clearly on the sky, along with thousands of stars. The main means of transport is bicycling; but people travel collectively in pick-up cars, ‘taxis’, if the distances are too long. Only the top district officials and politicians or the most successful entrepreneurs own private vehicles; other cars are owned by the civil service or non-governmental organisations.
On the website http://www.carbonfootprint.com one can calculate the carbon footprint of any household in the world. Let us imagine that a typical household of, say, six members in Apac burn 300 kilos of charcoal, travel 700 miles by local taxis and cover 400 miles by coach every year. They do not directly consume electricity or natural gas, nor do they travel by air; they belong to the 70 per cent of people who are subsistence farmers. This household produces 0.92 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annual. In comparison, the average UK household is responsible for 12.03 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, that of the US is producing 19 tonnes. With a comparatively tiny footprint, you could be forgiven for not concerning yourself with global warming in Apac.
Yet earlier this week two leading British government scientists “urged Africa to make climate change a top priority” at a conference in Pretoria, South Africa. With the continent accounting for 7.8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions , it is difficult to see why the burden of responsibility lies within. The effects of climate change, on the other hand, were said to turn Africa into a “key battleground in the global warming debate.” David King stated that “Africa will suffer the most if the world fails to reduce global warming.” Gordon Conway characterised the current trend in Africa’s climate as one of polarised change. “It’s going to get wetter and drier,” Conway stated.