(eTN) – The Tanzanian government announced last week that they will, in conjunction with development partners and international organizations, establish a climate change research center near Africa’s highest mountain. A team of European climate change researchers flew a balloon across the face of the mountain to gather vital data on air pollution just last week.
It is understood that the European Union will be a major contributor to the building and equipping of the new center, which will – when complete – serve several functions. Besides the quintessential research, the new facility will also serve as an education center for the population living near the mountain. Depending on its long-term ability to provide melt-off water for domestic, agricultural, and industrial use, there are also plans to turn it into a center for tourists where visitors from abroad can lean about the findings and research carried out by the center, the already visible impact of climate change on the mountain’s ice caps, and mitigative measures developed by the center’s research team.
In recent decades, Kilimanjaro’s glaciers have progressively shrunk, ever faster in fact over the last decade, and unless measures of mitigation can be found and a global climate agreement be reached in the discussions now ongoing in Bonn, Germany, ahead of the Copenhagen follow-up summit in Mexico City later this year, there could be devastating consequences for the millions of people living on both sides of the mountain in Tanzania and Kenya. Their thriving agricultural farms and the tourism businesses in parks surrounding the mountain on both sides of the border could be in jeopardy.