21.10.2021 Feature Article

Climate Change – Our Quotum

Climate Change – Our Quotum
21.10.2021 LISTEN

“By 2030, it is estimated that up to 118million extremely poor people will be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat in Africa, if adequate response measures are not put in place.” - Josefa, Commission for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Committee

CLIMATE CHANGE can be defined as the alteration of temperature and typical weather patterns occurring at a particular place. National Geographic defines “climate change” as a long-term shift in global or regional climate patterns.

Some of us may hear the term “climate change” and not bother about it; we may see it as remote from us. What should we care about “greenhouse effects” resulting from human activities (mainly by the burning of fossil fuels)? What should a land lubber care about the depletion of the ozone layer; the shrinking glaciers: the breaking-up of ice on rivers and lakes; the rise of the sea-level; or even intense heat waves. Britain may target Net zero by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement (Cap 26 of 2015) by which the amount of carbon dioxide we add is no more than the amount taken away. Bill Gates may be championing climate change, but some people see his actions merely as opportunism. Well?

Europe, U.S.A., Asia, Australia may be caught up in eco-anxiety which could even affect the young who get worried about environmental destruction and blame their governments for inaction. Tom Burke thinks: “It's rational for young people to be anxious. They're not just reading about climate change in the media – they're watching it unfold in front of their own eyes.” These young people see the future as “frightening”.

In India, heavy rains began on 11th October, this year: by 16th October, 2021, the rains had caused so much disaster; including landslides. At the last count, a total of 5,225 people had been displaced and emergency teams had rescued more than 800 people. But the fatalities had reached 30.There were massive landslides in Kuttickal and Mundakkayam which are in Kottoyam District as well as Kokkayar in Idduki District. India's military and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had been deployed in rescue and relief operations. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a message of condolence for those killed: “It is saddening that some people have lost their lives due to heavy rains and landslides in Kerala. Condolences to the bereaved families.”

Or talk about the tropical storm, in Kompasu in the Philippines causing flooding in Benguet Province and Palawan Province, leaving 13 people dead, 9 missing and 3 injured.

In China the death rate from the floods in Shanxi Province in Northern China was 5, but it forced 120,000 people to flee their homes; 17,000 houses were destroyed.

And in the U.S.A., of all places, four people died in the devastating flood that hit Birmingham, Alabama, particularly Jefferson and Shelby counties in Central Alabama. A statement issued by Hoover Fire Department noted: “Last night, the City of Hoover experienced unprecedented intense rainfall that caused flash flooding in numerous areas. Several of these areas have not experienced flash flooding in the last 20 years. Numerous water rescues were conducted from stranded vehicles in multiple areas.”

Mexico suffered from floods. Municipalities like San Juan del Rio, El Marqués, Corregidora, Huimilpan, Tesquisquiapan and Queretaro were affected. All these floods occurred this month – October. Floods – devastating floods – have recently occurred in Oman, Belgium and Germany.

Ghana had a taste of floods in September particularly in Accra, Ashanti and the northern parts. After a 5-hour downpour, there was a gridlock at Shiashie, Legon-Madina Highway and Haatso. In Ashanti, flash floods hit Nhyiaeso, Ahenema Kokoben, Daban, Sokoban, Kromoase leading to the death of 4 people, after a 3-hour rain. People blame poor drainage, construction of houses in water ways and dumping of household waste into rivers. The northern parts of Ghana suffer perennial flooding any time the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso is opened. This year Tamale also got flooded and in the Tamale Teaching Hospital, nurses were seen scooping water from parts of the facility. The Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia visited Tamale to commiserate with families who had lost loved ones and property as a result of floods.

In Ghana, most of the problems that lead to flooding are man-made and self-inflicted. People throw garbage into rivers, especially when it rains. And we do not think about the harmful effects on families living downstream.

In Kumasi, the river Susa traverses two Districts: Oforikrom and Asokore-Mampong. On Tuesday, 19th October, 2021, there was just two hours of rain. And many of the houses along River Susa (Ayigya, Aboabo, Susuanso, Anloga Junction, Asokore Mampong) got flooded. It was a sad spectacle seeing families (men, women, children) scooping water from their rooms and casting away destroyed property. The National Disaster Management Organistion (NADMO) has a lot of work to do, besides dishing out a few goodies and commiserating with the affected families: the River Susa will have to be constantly dredged; all the structures lying in the waterways have to be demolished; (this time around, there should be proper action taken, unlike the cosmetic ones taken previously – done for the camera!); people living along River Susa should be educated about water pollution – the effects of discarding their waste into the river: rubbish, discarded refrigerators, television sets, furniture, car tyres. Compounding the problem was the construction of the bridge at Ahensan: one cannot tell why there has been such a delay.

We would like to see that our laws work, and that no one is shielded for breaking the laws. The new MCEs of Oforikrom and Asokore-Mampong need to take up this issue as a matter of urgency.

The Environmental Protection Agency is doing its bit. Recently they were in Kumasi to present a number of items to OtumfuoOsei Tutu II intended for the Asante Kingdom Land Restoration Programme. This is a welcome gesture – 1,000 pieces of machetes, 400 pairs of Wellington boots and 200 pieces of watering cans – to bolster the efforts in Ashanti. Dr. Henry Kokofu, the Executive Director of EPA noted: “Yes, we have the laws backing us to ensure compliance, protection and even enforce the law to the point of meting out punitive sanctions. But we strongly believe that it is about time we stepped up the awareness creation.” Well, over to you.

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By AfricanusOwusu-Ansah

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