Curbing The Menace Of Climate Change
Kelly Ovie Umukoro
Barack Obama, US President
Recently, world leaders came together in New York to brainstorm on ways to tackle the challenges of climate change. President Barack Obama was among scores of world leaders at the gathering, which followed by days of mass demonstration in New York City in support of action to combat global warming. Among those who marched: Al Gore, whose 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” shed light on the problem.
A look at some of Obama’s claims and how they compare with the facts:
OBAMA: “Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution by more than any other nation on Earth.” Europe as a whole has cut a bigger proportion of its emissions.
From 2005 to 2013, the period cited by Obama, the European Union reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 13.9 percent, compared with a 10 percent reduction in the U.S. Because the United States pollutes more, it has reduced more raw emissions than the EU – cutting raw tonnage by 649 million tons since 2005, compared with Europe’s reduction of 614 million tons. But Europe has cut a bigger proportion of its emissions.
From 1990 levels, the benchmark year from which the EU measures progress, emissions were down about 18 percent in Europe. Meanwhile, compared with 1990, U.S. emissions are up about 10 percent, based on data from the Global Carbon Project.
Although these claims were faulted in some quarters that America is cleaning up emission at home and sending dirty fuel abroad to pollute the same sky and that they are not doing enough but, the truth is that efforts are on to curb the menace.
Reports around the world have shown that there is urgent need to speed up advocacy on climate change, back home nothing is being done. Major cities in Nigeria like Benin, Kano, Lagos and other parts of the country evidence of this menace is very visible, many families have fled their homes, properties worth millions of naira have been lost, due to heavy rains and flooding, it is very important for us to know what is happening in our environment so that we can be conscious of what is going on around us.
In Nigeria today, the issue of our environment is not being taken seriously by those in authority. The only information citizens get is that of weather forecast and nothing more,in other parts of the world, like in the United States of America there are statistics showing all kinds of information regarding weather and the environment, it is high time for Nigeria to start educating our people on the need to be very conscious of our environment because the dangers of climate change are enormous
One will like to ask what climate change is.Because it will interest you to know that majority of our society still do not know about climate change. It is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average (e.g., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change may be limited to a specific region or may occur across the whole Earth.Wikipedia
Climate is responsible for changes in the global energy balance. On the broadest scale, the rate at which energy is received from the sun and the rate at which it is lost to space determine the equilibrium temperature and climate of Earth. This energy is then distributed around the globe by winds, ocean currents, and other mechanisms to affect the climates of different regions.
Factors that can shape climate are called climate forcings or “forcing mechanisms”. These include such processes as variations in solar radiation, deviations in the Earth’s orbit, mountain-building and continental drift, and changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. There are a variety of climate change feedbacks that can either amplify or diminish the initial forcing. Some parts of the climate system, such as the oceans and ice caps, respond slowly in reaction to climate forcings, while others respond more quickly.
Forcing mechanisms can be either “internal” or “external”. Internal forcing mechanisms are natural processes within the climate system itself, e.g., the meridional turnover. External forcing mechanisms can be either natural (e.g., changes in solar output) or anthropogenic (e.g., increased emissions of greenhouse gases).
Whether the initial forcing mechanism is internal or external, the response of the climate system might be fast (e.g., a sudden cooling due to airborne volcanic ash reflecting sunlight), slow (e.g. thermal expansion of warming ocean water), or a combination (e.g., sudden loss of albedo in the arctic ocean as sea ice melts, followed by more gradual thermal expansion of the water). Therefore, the climate system can respond abruptly, but the full response to forcing mechanisms might not be fully developed for centuries or even longer.
In other words most of the flooding and overflow of high sea level and other environmental activities are caused by climate change, the big challenge facing the world now is how to mitigate climate change, that is to see how the problem of climate change can be reduced so the earth can be a better place for all of us to live, most of our activities as humans are the main cause of climate change. And most citizens are ignorant of it because of lack of information and proper education on the part of government or the agencies that are saddled with the responsibility.
In order parts of the world, programmes are ongoing for instance in the United States of America to ensure reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through reducing energy waste and switching to cleaner energy sources. Frequently discussed energy conservation methods include increasing the fuel efficiency of vehicles (often through hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars and improving conventional automobiles), individual-lifestyle changes and changing business practices.
New developed technologies and currently available technologies including renewable energy (such as solar power, tidal and ocean energy, geothermal power, and wind power) and more controversially nuclear power and the use of carbon sinks, carbon credits, and taxation are aimed more precisely at countering continued greenhouse gas emissions. The ever-increasing global population and the planned growth of national GDPs based on current technologies are counter-productive to most of these proposed to mitigate climate change.
In the case of Nigeria the issue of climate change impact in our environment as at today is getting worse. Oil companies still flare gas in the Niger-delta, after many promises by the oil companies to stop such activities. Government on its part have been shifting the goal post for the oil companies making enforcement of its policy on gas flaring un-implementable. Also, human activities are on the high side like bush burning, movement of heavy duty vehicles, deforestation and all other activities that can increase greenhouse emission.
Government should not leave this life threatening problem for civil society alone, the advocacy is now for the presidency to rise to the challenge by taking the lead in mitigation efforts in Nigeria.
For our Environment to be safe, there is need for all stakeholders to come together to put the right policy in place that will help in mitigating climate change in our environment,we need to be conscious of the impact of climate change otherwise, we would wake up one morning to the reality of being consumed by its negative impact.
Kelly Umukoro is Communications Officer of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.Kelly@aneej.org