The good old book, “The Bible,” says, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The 31st verse of the opening account of creation has it that “God saw all that he had made, and it was excellent. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”
Indeed, the environment at the beginning was superb, and there was nothing like a decay. Bible historians reckon that even leaves did not fall until the sin of the first two people were committed. Still, as the population started growing, human activities also expanded, which had a devastating effect on humanity.
The common knowledge we have is that every single human activity has something to do with things around him, especially the vegetation and, by extension, the environment.
When man engages the environment, there is always either a positive or negative impact, sometimes not visible. However, it is still an impact which, by and large, has consequences that cannot be quantified.
Human activities have largely contributed to the huge change in the environment, some places in a positive way, and others in a negative way. The negative aspect has brought about a significant change in the global climate matters. The climate across the globe has become a huge social, economic, and pollical agenda.
“Climate change” they call it refers to any long-term change in climate, which also causes adverse effects on the lives of people dwelling on this planet. Some of such effects can be said to include warming, cooling and other changes besides temperature.
With this, the changes in the climate affect the air we breathe both indoors and outdoors. The experts say warming and cooling temperatures as well as and shifting weather patterns, can exacerbate air quality. This can also lead to severe health issues such as asthma attacks and other respiratory and cardiovascular health effects.
Drought, flooding, quality water supply, food and agriculture situations and the devastating impact on the global ecosystems, among others, are all here with us.
On the continent of Africa, flooding is the most prevalent disaster caused by climate change. The northern part of Africa for instances, is the first most prevalent, while the second most common is in East, South and Central Africa, and the third most common is in West Africa. This is per the Africa Water Development Report (AWDR, 2006).
“In North Africa, the 2001 disastrous flood in northern Algeria resulted in about 800 deaths and an economic loss of about $400 million. In Mozambique, the 2000 flood (worsened by two cyclones) caused 800 deaths, affected almost 2 million people of which about 1 million needed food, 329,000 people were displaced and agricultural production land was destroyed.”
Already, Ghana has experienced its fair share of devastating effects of climate change, with the three northern regions most affected. In recent times, more than 100 people have died through heavy rains and flooding. About 20 people are reported to have died in these parts of the country as a result of the most recent torrential downpour. In all, these huge amounts of resources and time are spent to help alleviate the hardships of the victims.
The northern part of the country appears very vulnerable with threats of desertification, extreme weather conditions with higher incidences and more prolonged periods of flooding and droughts. At certain times of the year, there are high records of temperatures amidst unpredictable rainfall patterns.
Circumstances are such that such human activities are worsening climate issues. Farming, fishing, driving, logging, mining, travelling, building, among many others, are contributory factors. Air pollution activities normally provide deadly results such as emissions of all kinds. It is believed that such negative outcomes have been strong agents in the destruction of valuable natural protective elements like the ozone layer.
The gradual destruction of the ozone layer, for instance, has seriously contributed negatively to global warming. The ozone layer or ozone shield is described as “a region of earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.”
For the last few years, temperatures in the otherwise known cold temperature zones on the planet earth are rather experiencing soring temperature. The last four years have recorded the hottest temperatures in certain parts of Europe and Africa whiles those known for hot temperatures are recording rather low-temperature figures.
For instance, during the summer of 2018, London recorded an unprecedented 36 degrees Celsius higher than Ghana’s 28 degrees Celsius. Other European zones over the past years have experienced extreme heatwaves. Truly, the issue of climate change appears a global phenomenon that knows no borders.
Climate change impact is being felt worldwide and, in some cases, with devastating effect. “Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow. But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.”
In Ghana, climate change is depicted through excessive and declining rainfall (depending upon the period) rising and shallow temperatures. The rising sea levels are also as a result of climate change.
The nation is still facing severe and complex environmental challenges. Like some other countries, Ghana’s factor emanates from waste management, illegal mining, logging, deforestation, noise, water and air pollution, and many more.
“The major climate change impacts affect all sectors and their objectives, places, and people differentially depending on the levels of vulnerability. Ghana’s vulnerability to climate change is largely defined by its exposure to the various impacts, with droughts, floods, and sea erosion as the main drivers. The most affected sectors in Ghana include the economic, social, and infrastructural groups. The cumulative effects on these sectors determine the impacts and vulnerabilities of various livelihoods groups and places in the country.”
Indications are that Ghana’s situation regarding climate change is anticipated to affect socio-economic infrastructures such as road, water resources, energy supplies, crop production and food security.
These are the repro effects of the smoking cars on the roads, the burning vehicle tyres used for various commercial activities such as preparation of meat, indiscriminate dumping of refuse, excessive felling of trees, all forms of mining activities, the releasing of carbon into the atmosphere, the use of atmospheric unfriendly electronic and electrical gadgets.
For now, there is no found antidote to the trend. Climate change matters are worsening by the day Governments and other international organisations such as the United Nations are just struggling to halt or at best, minimise it.
This year alone, several climate change summits have taken place around the globe. Such delivers a significant step up in national ambition and private sector action on the pathway to the key 2020 climate deadline.
At the global level, the United Nations in September organised one to demonstrate a “surge of engagement to reduce emissions and protect people against increasing impacts of climate change.”
It was concluded at the summit that “The UN estimates that the world would need to increase its efforts between three- and five-fold to contain climate change to the levels dictated by science – a 1.5°C rise at most – and avoid escalating climate damage already taking place around the world.”
Here in Ghana, a more pragmatic measure supported by the meaningful national policy must be in place to check the unprecedented and alarming trend of climate change. This must be done urgently or we as a people face the very looming and unpleasant consequence of climate change. This is because the handwriting is so clear on the wall and we must act now.
The urgent need for us to make the world a better place than we met it is now relevant than ever.
By Nana Sifa Twum
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