Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Great Rift Valley

We entered the Great Rift Valley near Nazareth. This massive depression dividing the Ethiopian highland regions is the location where many of our human ancestors’ fossilized remains are being found. It appears likely that this area of eastern Africa is the origin of humans and our predecessors. I had the privilege of viewing many of the fossil findings at the National Museum in Addis Ababa including the over-three-million-year-old Australopithecus called “Lucy.”

While the climate of the Ethiopian highlands is moderated by their altitude, the low elevation and proximity to the equator makes this rift area quite hot and dry. The Rift, eastern Ethiopia, and much of the Horn of Africa is now in its third year of severe drought which coincides with a particularly strong La Nina event described as a cooling of the surface waters of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. While some individuals in parts of the world deny the existence of global warming or climate change, those who live in the Great Rift Valley understand climate destabilization. Pastoralists of eastern Ethiopia and the Great Rift Valley see their livestock stressed by dried-up pasture grasses. Herdsmen carry their livestock great distances to rivers for water. Projections are for continued drought in this arid region as well as in Ethiopia’s poorest area, the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region. Worldwide, climate destabilization moves the weather toward the extremes. An English language article in Addis Ababa’s Daily Monitor datelined Nairobi, Kenya outlines proposals for correcting the effect of human-generated greenhouse gasses such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane released by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. Technologies used around the world to alleviate greenhouse gasses are classified as Carbon Dioxide Removal and Solar Radiation Management. Reforestation and avoidance of deforestation help by absorbing carbon dioxide. Large portions of Ethiopia’s forests have been cleared for farmland. Climate disturbance tends to affect those already experiencing the harshest of conditions. Today’s photo: dromedary camels in Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley.

1 comment:

  1. The Great Rift, near Nazareth.
    That will thrum in my head all night.
    A soundtrack to a dream of thirsty, long-necked camels.

    I thank you, quizzically, for this provoking post. I suspect you just wrecked my good's night sleep.