Many people have blamed this summer’s devastating food crisis in Madagascar, Africa, on global warming and the extreme dry conditions linked to it. The term “climate change” has come up in every news report in the country. But that’s an oversimplification, according to top scientists.
This would be something of a tragedy for any country: hunger, malnutrition, and forced migration. But for Madagascar, the United Nations estimates that nearly 1 million people could face starvation by the end of this year. When farming gets too difficult, the firewood they use to power their irrigation pumps can’t be cut without burning trees—not only destroying those trees, but also cutting down on their ability to build shade to keep their crops cool.
According to Mother Jones, the government declared a state of emergency in several regions of the island nation after a heat wave battered the country in August. The island is also far from the Pacific Ocean.
But there is one problem with the way the crisis is being labeled. Climate change is expected to produce hotter temperatures, but this hasn’t happened yet. “To the best of my knowledge, there has been no observable evidence that climate change is an enormous factor in today’s agricultural difficulties in Madagascar,” Elinor Greenblatt, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, told Mother Jones.