EAST Africa is no stranger to crisis: who can forget the Ethiopian famine of the mid-1980s that killed about half a million people?
But the drought that struck in 2011 was different – it was caused, at least in part, by climate change, the first time a humanitarian disaster has been directly linked to global warming (see "Humanitarian disaster blamed on climate change"). It won't be the last.
If that wasn't bad enough, our climate now seems to have passed one of the abrupt changes known as tipping points. This is another first (see "Arctic thaw may be first in cascade of tipping points").
These stories are a depressing reminder of how we are damaging the planet. But they also remind us that change is possible. The famine of the mid-1980s was a tipping point of sorts too, because it thrust hunger onto the global agenda. We need a new hero. Is there a climate change Bob Geldof out there?
This article appeared in print under the headline "Holding out for a climate hero"
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