Climate change: our habitat, our concern!


Recently the world has witnessed numerous environmental challenges which have posed a threat to the continued existence of mankind. It is no longer news that our planet is in danger as a result of the growing changes in our climate conditions over the years. What then shall we do to curtail this growing disastrous trend? Should we fold our arms and pretend that nothing is wrong with Mother Earth?

Climate change as the world is experiencing is a phenomenon that is both scientific and human. This phenomenon over the decades has caused increased negative effects in the lives of mankind.  This is caused by internal variability within the climate system, and external factors (both natural and anthropogenic). This points to the fact that as individuals, we have a lot of activities going for us ranging from using automobiles for survival to burning of energy for consumption every day.

Truly, it has been observed that human factors account for an increased percentage of the causative factors of climate change. These factors include; burning of fossil fuel, deforestation and other activities which lead to the emission of greenhouse gases, otherwise known as GHG. The threat posed by this phenomenon which has seen the world witnessing catastrophic coastal erosion, monumental flooding, unprecedented tsunamis, increased drought, wide fires, variable weather conditions, etc. cannot be swept under the carpet.

Most recently, global temperatures have risen sharply owing to the depletion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere, which is attributed to human emissions of chlorine and bromine compounds. Global warming as climate change is now known is a serious invasion into our beautiful planet earth. This calls for concerted effort in tackling this problem. Though there are individuals and organizations committed to the reduction GHG emissions such former Vice President of the United States of America, Mr. Al Gore {he shared the 2007 Nobel Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an agency of the United Nations; for advocacy on climate change}, more still needs to be done by even by National Governments in creating awareness about the dangers of global warming.

According to Prof. Franklin Nwagbara (2008), 90% of the world’s 6.4 billion population {as at then}, do not know about climate change. This is a shocking revelation when compared to the fact that a greater number of people live along the world’s coastal regions making for most of the 70% of the earth covered with water; the fact that we all suffer from the consequences of our perceived ‘ignorance’. Nwagbara further noted
60% of the world’s ecosystems are degraded…. 1998 became the warmest year in the world due to increased anthropogenic activities. The dangers of climate change are in every facet of the human life. Be it agriculture, water, health, biodiversity, weather, population etc. these dangers if not tackled properly will lead to untold hardship for the coming generation as they will be deprived of food, clean water, stable weather and worst of all shelter.

Perhaps the erudite scholar’s views may be challenged by many on the basis of extreme weather conditions of the past 3 years particularly in 2013, when those living in Nigeria witnessed harsh weather conditions in the first quarter. But it does not belittle the entire submissions.

How then can the issue of climate change be tackled and how can we reduce global warming since scientists have predicted the loss of some of the world’s beautiful cities which serve as tourist destinations for many, as a result of rising sea levels? The World Meteorological Organization reports that there is a huge increase in the concentration or deposition of Carbon Dioxide and other GHGs in the atmosphere. The report also shows that this is already having consequences for the climate and nature. They include; excessive hotness of the sun, the global economic food shortage, slow but drastic change of weather due to the melting of the Arctic ice in the Polar Regions, which ultimately leads to rising sea levels, increased rainfalls etc. scientists say that by 2060, the ice glaciers may have all been melted if these emissions continue.

Africa and Asia bears the brunt of climate change. This is evident in the high rate of desertification in the former and incessant flooding in the latter. Even though Africa contributes little to global emissions of Carbon and other GHGs, she still suffers from the consequences.

One major cause of increased global emissions of GHGs is the fast pace of modernization {some may call it development}, as obtained in the Western world. The skyscrapers, metro rail lines, excavations, increased car productions, gas flaring rocket launches {expeditions into space}, all these which the “Industrialized nations” embark upon sends these harmful gases into the atmosphere, there polluting and contaminating it. Funny enough the US and Australia top the charts in the list of nations with the highest percentage of emissions.
At the 62nd Annual General Assembly of the UN, focus was Climate Change. In his address to world leaders, UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon noted that it takes collective and concerted efforts to save our world as it belongs to all of us.  He called on world leaders to renew their efforts in combating the menace of climate change. One of the ways of doing this he stated was the adoption and ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol was adopted in December 1997 at the Conference of the Parties [COP], to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] held in Kyoto Japan. The Protocol (a draft treaty) contains legally binding commitments, in addition to those included in the UNFCCC. In it, countries agreed to reduce their anthropogenic GHG emissions {CO2 CH4 N2O, HFC, PFC and SF6} by at least 5% below 1990 levels, in the commitment period of 2008 – 2012. Sadly enough much is yet to be done on this matter.

At the home front, a lot still needs to be done to tackle this matter. The deadline given by the Nigerian Senate to Oil Companies to end gas flaring by December 2008 has not been strictly adhered to. The issue of waste management and recycling is also another matter begging for attention.  Kudos must be giving to some state Governors for taking the lead in the promotion of clean environment, but much still has to be done.

Nigeria’s response to its obligation under the UNFCCC, the Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change project initiative which was started during the time of Ojo Maduekwe as Nigeria’s Foreign Minister under President Umaru Yar’dua is yet to gather momentum as Nigerians are yet to feel its impact. At its launch, Chief Maduekwe said “the Nigerian Government is committed to reducing the actual impact of climate change. Nigerian has a responsibility to adopt strategies and policies and raise further public awareness on effects of climate change, so that that the population will adopt preventive measures with regards to the problem.” Again, this seems like another elephant project as with many other brilliant initiates that die natural deaths. Only time will tell.

Indeed climate change has the potential to forever alter the lives of people, but it is not without solutions. Perhaps one of the cheapest is planting and re-planting of trees. This is venture everyone can go into. These trees not only provide economic values, they help to sink in the effects of the sun therefore reducing heat. Others include; using environmentally friendly building materials, and home appliances, adopting safer ways of coal extraction, crude exploration and transportation; procurement and distribution of tree for planting, protection of natural reserves, advocacy against felling of trees, stop bush burning and promote education on the effects of climate change.

This is a global call to save our global village brought about by globalization and technology. Together, with our collective response, we shall address this collective concern which threatens our collective habitat. If you feel you are not affected then surely you have a relation or a vested interest somewhere in Lagos, the Niger Delta area, Britain and other coastal areas and islands predicted to be swallowed up by rising sea levels by 2060.

Be environmentally friendly, Join the campaign! Save our Planet, Think GREEN!

Udechukwu Chimezie Judemary

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