Madagascar Famine Not Caused by Climate Crisis: Study
While the United Nations casts the blame on climate change for the drought-caused famine in Madagascar, a new study suggests otherwise.
Poverty, poor infrastructure, and natural weather have contributed more to the food crisis in Madagascar than climate change, said a study released Thursday by World Weather Attribution.
The study claimed climate change has played a minimal role in pushing Madagascar to the brink of famine. However, it noted that the situation would only worsen with the rise of global temperatures.
The United Nations argues otherwise, saying climate change is the main contributor to the food crisis ravaging the island nation.
The UN World Food Programme said last month more than 1.3 million people there were considered to be in a food security crisis or emergency due to Madagascar's worst drought in four decades.
In June, the WFP said Madagascar was the "first country in the world that is experiencing famine-like conditions as a result of the climate crisis."
According to the study, climate change "may have slightly" contributed to the current low rainfall levels, but the recent and current dry weather is still within expected natural variability.
Under today's climate, a drought this severe has a 1 in 135 chance of happening in the region each year, researchers estimate.
The paper has still not been submitted for peer review.
Mark Howden, a climate expert at the Australian National University who was not involved in the new research, said the "biggest issue" with the study is that it only deals with rainfall, adding that factors "such as temperature and potential evaporation" also need to be considered when studying droughts.
The famine ravaging the tropical African island prompted its Environment Minister to speak up for her homeland at the UN COP26 in Scotland to warn other countries against the repercussions of climate change, as they could 'find themselves suffering a similar fate.'
Madagascar is no stranger to prolonged droughts; however, what it is not used to is the dry spells lasting this long and being of this intensity. If climate change is not curbed, the island could have nearly 75% of its soil scorched by 2080, affecting over 20 million people, minister Baomiavotse Vahinala Raharinirina said.