climate change
climate change

By Joshua Awuku-Apaw, Earth Service

climate-changeOn Ghana s Independence Day, March 6, 2014, the realities of Climate Change was given manifestation when the President of the Republic, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama after being drenched in a heavy downpour at a parade of school children and the military openly acknowledged that Climate Change is a reality and there is the need to tackle it. He observed that at this particular time of the year Ghana was not expecting rains but then the rains just came in.

This incident has generated a lot of interest in the subject of Climate Change and it is important that it is discussed for Ghanaians especially the non academic to understand a few things. Earlier in February this year, former Secretary General of the United Nations, H.E. Kofi Annan had stated at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit in India that???impacts of climate change were real and that the World stands at a crossroads vis a vis imminent consequences of the phenomenon. He emphasized that there is an urgent need to join forces to save humanity, especially people from the developing world who are mostly vulnerable to impacts of climate change. These fears expressed by these prominent personalities calls for a second look to be taken at the subject matter of climate change in very simple language so that people will understand and??appreciate the dangers ahead.

Climate Change is the change in weather variability over a period of time, mostly about thirty years. The change is measured by changes in features associated with average weather such as temperature, wind patterns and precipitation (rainfall). It is caused by many factors but mainly human induced as a result of concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere. Generally, climate change is caused by:

Industrial activities as a result of emission of large volumes of smoke into the atmosphere;

Transportation, where thick volumes of exhaust emissions are released into the atmosphere by vehicles especially old ones with weak engines and other mechanical defects;

Deforestation, where trees are felled in large numbers (trees act as carbon sinks so their absence creates a vacuum for carbon absorption );

Forest fires, where large hectares of forests which serve as carbon sinks are destroyed

Agriculture, where methane emissions are also released into the atmosphere;

Population growth, where large tracks of vegetation are destroyed to make way for settlements and other human needs (land use change);

The use of fuel to generate energy to power machinery;

Poor waste management practices even in homes.

The consequence of these is the prevalence of diseases of various types, land degradation, famine, drought, floods and their attendant problems, long spells of dry weather, erratic and torrential rainfall, biting cold, short spells of rainfall and excessive heat in the atmosphere, among other worries. Briefly therefore, one can say that the negative effects of climate change results in increase in vulnerability especially of the poor by adversely affecting their health and livelihoods, significantly aggravates water stress, reduces food security, increases extreme weather scenarios and can potentially increase vector and water borne diseases. Climate change can lead to irreversible changes in the delicate balance that exists in the planet s climate and life support systems. It is a growing crisis with large scale implications on mortality, health, the economy and security. It is therefore seen as a great threat to the survival of humanity and it is important that a two prong attack is launched to either mitigate or adapt to the problem.

Unfortunately many people do not know that their lifestyles contribute enormously to climate change. They believe that it is the big time industries which emit huge volumes of smoke and those engaged in deforestation which are the principal culprits and therefore as far as they are concerned, they are not part of the problem. In our everyday activities and lifestyles, we contribute to climate change prevalence. In our use of basic things like paper, electricity and??electrical gadgets, vehicular transport, computers, our eating habits, etc., we knowingly or unknowingly contribute to and global warming and climate change.

One of the ways to kill this apathetic attitude is to build the capacity of people, create awareness and sensitize them to know that in one way or the other, their actions contribute to climate change and that they are part of the solution. Ghana abounds in expertise as far as Climate Change is concerned. Recently, our former President, H.E. John Agyekum Kufour was appointed as U.N. Special Envoy for Climate Change with a task of mobilizing political will and support from governments to address climate change issues. In academia, industry and services, many talents and expertise abound. Mention must also be made of some non- governmental organizations such as the Centre for the Management of Impact of Climate Change (CeMICC), Friends of the Earth, Earth Service, Religious Bodies Network on Climate Change (Relbonet), among others. It is important that all hands are mobilized to combat climate change. This is not the time to play politics on the subject. In any case the majority poor are bound to suffer most on climate change impacts. If politicians have the aim of alleviating the plight of the poor and vulnerable, it becomes imperative therefore for them to tackle climate change and other environmental problems with all the energies at their disposal. Ghana is a developing country and majority of its people directly depend on environmental resources to survive.

It is for this reason that any developmental agenda of the country must mainstream environmental concerns since the environment and natural resources are the life support systems of humanity.

?The writer can be reached through:[email protected]

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