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Opinions of Thursday, 12 February 2015

Journaliste: Jude Nuru

The realities of climate change


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From an environmental viewpoint, climate change can be regarded as global warming and everything else that the increasing of greenhouse gas levels will affect. From this perspective, it is undeniably clear that the phenomenon of climate change is global and as such, the fight against this debilitating canker requires no less an action than a globally concerted effort.

This therefore means that no single nation, regardless of how well-intended and comprehensive her environmental policies may have been, cannot succeed in waging a lone-ranger war against climate change in isolation. In other words, any approach to tackling the problem of climate change requires a high level international cooperation as this will potentially lower overall costs and becomes more effective than if individual nations were to act in isolation.

Despite enough evidence to support the incidence of climate change, some individuals and even some organizations still question the realities of climate change. While a negligible fraction of these people may be genuinely ignorant about the concept of climate change, a greater chunk of them have deliberately turned a blind eye to it mainly as a result of the seemly economic benefits they stand to reap from their engagement in hostile and unsustainable environmental practices.

Indeed, there is some level of consensus among a good number of scientists that climate change is caused by anthropogenic activities with the most significant one being the burning of fossil fuels. It is an undisputable fact that, a lot of the global economic successes, especially those in the developed world, had been achieved largely due to the dependence on fossil fuels, as was the case during the industrial revolution.

However, the over reliance on fossil fuels for economic development cannot continue without any appropriate technological intervention coming in to stem the tide. In fact, an engagement in any economic activity which is deemed hostile to the environment is reprehensible and must be vigorously renounced as the realities of climate change have become manifest everywhere and are no longer questionable. As a matter of fact, no one, regardless of his /her location, can claim to be oblivion of the signs and effects of climate change that have become pervasive and having devastating impact on the environment and human health.

Indeed, ample evidence abounds to corroborate scientists’ belief about climate change. One clear evidence of climate change is unprecedented global temperature rise. In the last couple of years, countries throughout the globe have unilaterally witnessed abnormal temperatures in and around their regions, with those countries found along the tropical areas being the greatest recipient of this negative actuality of climate change. As indicated earlier, the impact of climate change can be very devastating with dire environmental consequences, as well as negative health implications on populations as people can die due to excessive heat or cold.

There is absolutely no room for impartiality regarding the negative impact of climate change on the lives of people, since everyone is at risk of being affected by the attendant consequences of it. All ecological zones have had a bitter experience with climate change irrespective of their global location. Those in the temperate zones have had their fair share of climate change.

According to the UK MET Office, for example, during the summer of 2003, excessive temperatures around 38.50C hit Europe causing an estimated 35,000 deaths across the continent. In the tropical locales, the impact of climate change is mostly felt through extended drought periods often leading to low yields and poor harvest, thus ushering in an unpleasant human condition of famine. Moreover, the excessive heat being experienced in parts of the world, especially the tropics, have compelled inhabitants of such areas to procure air conditioners which are run non-stop to lessen the impact of the unbearable heat.

This practice has in turn led to an astronomical rise in energy consumption, further weakening the already-burdened energy generation capacity of some of these countries. No wonder Ghana is currently experiencing a period of prolonged energy crisis. The power generator, VRA attributes this situation to low water level at the Hydro-Dam at Akosombo. An undeniable reality of the situation, however, is that climate change is undoubtedly responsible for the low water level in the dam. Another obvious deadly reality of climate change which has had far-reaching ramifications on the ecological system in recent years has been unprecedented flooding. Most people that have been living in areas that experienced the unpleasant incident of flooding as an offshoot of climate change have had their entire homes submerged in heavy pool of water. In the midst of the flooding, precious lives and valuable possessions are usually lost.

In recent times, the agricultural sector had witnessed significant deviations in terms of drastic changes that have occurred in the rainfall pattern in some regions across the globe. This situation has made it difficult for farmers, more especially peasant farmers,to plan their farming activities appropriately. Oftentimes, there are serious disruptions to the seasons during which certain crops thrive well. Consequently, some traditional high yielding crops are being phased out gradually, since the prevailing climatic conditions can no longer support their very existence. This situation has often impacted negatively on the overall earnings of some subsistent farmers, thereby affecting their standard of living and ultimately their quality of life.

In the northern part of Ghana, for example, farmers used to start preparing their arable lands around March and start sowing early crops around April. This is no longer the case, as the rains delay unduly forcing them to commence their farming activities sometime in June. The end result is poor harvest, thereby worsening their already-underprivileged situation and hence poverty becomes an endemic social problem in that part of the country.

Once the entire ecological system has been suffering from the harsh realities of climate change, animal life is inescapable. Some animal species have become extinct due to an irreparable damage caused to their hitherto natural habitat by the harsh realities of climate change.In the past, some tropical birds and butterflies that used to serve as harbingers regarding important seasons and times during the year, which literally presented a form of a calendar to the rural folks to begin preparing for some crucial activities, have all become extinct. Dejectably, not only are animals deprived of their bona fide God given habitat in the wake of climate change, they are in most cases deprived of their basic livelihood, as green grass and other sources of subsistence for animals become non-existent for them to forage.

In a nutshell, ample evidence abounds to support scientists’ belief about climate change.

Climate change is manifested in ozone layer depletion, hurricane (Katrina and Rita), sea level rise, global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, declining arctic sea ice, glacial retreat, extreme events, changes in activities of birds and flowers, just to mention a few. With all these negative unconventional events staring humanity right in the face, the question of the realities of climate change has therefore become anachronistic. A relevant and fashionable question that must be ringing in peoples’ ears instead is how to fight this multi-faceted canker, since it does have negative social, economic, and environmental implications.

The good news, however, is that we are reliably informed by scientists that the activities of human beings are the very cause of climate change. This therefore means that humans hold the keys to solving the problem of climate change and can assuredly fight it through various energy and environmental policy initiatives. As clearly outlined from the beginning, the fight against it cannot be done in isolation by individual nations. The effort required to fight it more effectively and judiciously is a globally concerted one.In this regard, environmental sustainability and sustainable development must supersede all else and remain major human preoccupations.

Jude Nuru The Writer is an Energy and Environmental Policy Professional and can be contacted via email:

[email protected]

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