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The effects of Global Warming on human lives in West Africa Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by ERNEST, Ghana Aug 12, 2008
Climate Change , Environment   Opinions
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Global Warming has sparked lots of arguments in environmental, industrial, political and academic circles, governmental and non-governmental alike. What is Global Warming? Global Warming is simply the increase of the atmosphere’s temperature and its effect on the environment, including all ecosystems. The effects of global warming are brought about due to industrialization and other human practices such as farming and construction.

Human activities impact the climate in different ways. Obvious aspects of the impact of Global Warming will be changes in both average and extreme temperatures. Global Warming will obviously enhance coastal erosion, lengthen the planting/ growing seasons and possibly change the range of some infectious diseases.

In West Africa, due to natural climatic conditions, Global Warming will result in more hot days and fewer wet days. However, current trends in climatic changes show a slight change. There have been more hot days and heavy storms. Areas at high latitudes that are already experiencing much rainfall will have more storms while tropical regions and dry places will likely receive scanty rains. The increase in rainfalls will translate into heavier storms, but not into an increase in the number of rainy days. This will lengthen the period of drought. Global Warming in West Africa will thus prolong drought/ dry seasons. In Ghana this was seen during the energy crisis which followed the lack of rains in the Upper White Volta.

From the period of industrialization till now, there have been more gas emissions into the atmosphere than in any other era in global history. Due to industrialization climatic change cannot be avoided. As long as there is a continuous influx of production industries and an unquenchable quest for a massive infrastructural and industrial boom in West Africa, the globe will experience inevitable climate change. This will obviously have an impact on human lives, the ozone layer and the ecosystems.

Industrial emissions like methane will deplete the ozone layer, which is a covering, and temperatures will go up. Global Warming is very likely to invent heavy and more destructive storms, and to increase drought, burning and coastal damage from high sea levels. However, there are going to be some exceptions. Tropical areas are likely to receive less rain as the earth becomes warmer.

Global climate change and its effects are seen all over the world and Africa is no exception. However, this article is limited to the West African sub-region (and especially focused on Ghana). In Ghana it is evident that climatic conditions have changed for the past eight years or so. Rainfall patterns have changed as the wet or rainy season has shifted and the intensity or depth of rain has increased. There are more storms and the dry season has become very intense. What has caused these climatic changes in a lowly-industrialized continent like Africa. The answer to this question lies with us. Lots of bush burning, the emission of fumes from cars and trucks and the destruction of forests have had their impact.

The most affected in these climatic changes will be farmers and fisherfolk. The changes in rainfall and dry season patterns will have a great effect on growing plants and animals. Storms and flooding will be inevitable. The weather is not the only thing global warming will impact. Rising levels of the sea will destroy seacoasts and cause increased coastal flooding. Thus, the sea will begin to “eat our land”. The problem is serious because in Ghana it is estimated that about 70% of the population are farmers and fisherfolk. Thus climate change will mean less production of food, including fish and meat. Feeding oneself and one’s family will be difficult.

This writer and others believe strongly that the current world food crisis has its genesis in global climate change. Countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, which are well noted for meat production, will suffer because the rearing of animals like cattle will lessen as water bodies dry up and vegetation dies. These animals in turn will have little to feed on and drink. Not only will meat decrease but fresh milk will also be scarce. The decrease in the production of staples will mean an increase in the price of the little that is available. No wonder we are faced with global food crises.

When the production of food crops and export produce decreases, it is obvious that the poverty levels of the people in West Africa will rise. This is the time for various West African governments and, more importantly, for ECOWAS to make strict environmental policies and enforce already existing ones. Thus, they can save poor farmers and fisherfolk from unbeatable poverty, and the whole sub-region from diseases such as cancer, malaria, heat strokes and other infections caused by heat.

The inability of these high-powered bodies to come out and strictly supervise and implement environmental laws means that residents of poorer countries, who do not have the resources to fend off changes in the climate, will be the hardest hit. As temperatures in tropical areas rise, the rate at which some diseases like malaria attack people will change. Intensive rains will lead to more severe flooding and the rising of sea levels. The dry season will be hotter and bush fires will increase. The intensity of droughts could lead to an increase in malnutrition as animals and plants will die out of hunger and thirst.

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Ernest Asiedu Odei is currently a Volunteer Co-Director for Youth Realities Network (YOUR-NET), a Youth Development Consultant who has worked extensively on the MDGs and the GPRS 1&2. He is also student at Ghana Christian University College pursuing a Degree in Theology majoring in Youth Ministry and Christian Education. He started his Youth Development work 6years ago and has gained immense experience from his day-to-day contact with all kinds of people in the Urban and Rural Communities.

Wonderful write-up!
Ayotunde William Okelana | Nov 27th, 2008
Reading through your write-up shows you are familiar with the terrain and the grassroot. I 'm deeply concerned about environment and very much tempted to write on environment. In fact, if I should I might be duplicating your idea. We can work more at the advocacy level. Let Ghanaian youth and young people in the West of Africa arise and save our little world.

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