Dakar, then and now

Dakar in 1942, as shown in UNEP's 2008 African Atlas.

If I had a 100 cfa coin for every time un dakarois has remarked how much the city has changed in the last 5/10/20 years, I’d be awash in bus fare.  These two graphics, taken from UNEP’s Africa:  Atlas of Our Changing Environment,  say it all.  (And lives up to this publication’s media blurb: “As the age-old adages say, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and ‘Seeing is believing’, this stunning 400-page ‘Africa: Atlas of our Changing Environment’ is a unique and powerful publication which brings to light stories of environmental change at more than 100 locations spread across every country in Africa.”)  More than 50% of Senegalese live in urban centers now, as environmental and economic conditions in the countryside push them to the cities to look for work while the concentration of services (health, education, other social services, both governmental and non-governmental) and relative wealth pull them in.

The crowded and widespread Dakar that I live in today.

The resulting physical changes leap out when comparing the 1942 satellite image of Dakar, Senegal’s capital and largest city, above, to the image taken a few years ago, at right: annexation of open sub- and ex-urban land, more and more roads (and vehicles), no planned open space, all surrounded by a rising ocean!  President Wade’s administration does have plans for grands projets or large public works projects, which include relocating the airport off the Cap Vert to the east and large highways (with sufficient public transportation?) connecting Dakar to it.

On a personal then and now, take a look back at the very first graphic used on this blog, posted in August stateside!

N.B. on Tick Tock.  Sign-up sheet fill-ins are trickling in.  Several U.S. announcements on Friday hint at the nitty gritty of meeting Appendix I goals.

1.  The federal government said that it would cut its energy use and reduce its heat-trapping emissions 28% by 2020, compared with 2008 levels.  Given that the government is the country’s largest user of electricity and fuel, accounting for about 1.5% U.S. GHG emissions, President Obama said that it had a responsibility to lead by example.  Notably, this news announcement was cloaked in the language of cost savings (some $8-11 billion in energy costs over the next decade), energy independence, and pollution reduction, rather than commitments under the Copenhagen Accord: “Our goal is to lower costs, reduce pollution and shift federal energy expenses away from oil and towards local, clean energy.”

2.  The federal government also took two steps on Friday to promote nuclear power development in the U.S.:  first, proposing to triple federal loan guarantees for new projects (from $18.5 billion to over $54 billion) and second, appointing a high-level commission to study nuclear waste disposal. (Read this Climate Progress post by CAP’s Daniel Weiss on the proposal.)

3.  To complete the hat trick, Massachusetts, one of the U.S.’s most active state “laboratories” (currently neck and neck with California on energy issues) announced new energy efficiency standards for utilities, including annual statewide reductions (as mandated by the Green Communities Act) of 2.4% in electricity and 1.15% in natural gas for three years. The state will provide $1.6 billion in conservation incentives for utility customers, most of which will come from auction revenue from RGGI. Again, the rhetoric around this initiative was not GHG emission targets under the Copenhagen Accord:  “the job creation and consumer savings will provide timely relief across the state, and carbon pollution will be slashed.”


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