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ENVIRONMENT: OPINION: “Our Precious Planet”

Oct 3, 2014, 1:20 PM | Article By: Mariama J Krubally

Several protocols and conventions have been signed and ratified by our various governments and heads of state globally to manage the environment judiciously, and avoid the much-dreaded environmental catastrophe that might break the camel’s back. Yet, environmental management is pricking our conscience today more than ever before.

A practical global solution to a universal problem is inevitable if we are to avoid the eventual disappearance of the earth and its resources, since the effects of climate change know no geographical boundaries, racial distinctions, political or economic ideological superiorities or inferiorities.

There is need for the people of the planet Earth to utilize resources responsibly, and sustainably in order to prevent our planet from going down the way of the proverbial ‘Lost Planet’. 

According to the 11th Edition of the Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary, weather could be defined as “the state of the atmosphere at a place and time as regards temperature, wind, rain etc” and Climate is defined as “the general weather conditions prevailing in an area over a period of time.”

Climate change is said to be the result of pollution through the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which come principally from fossils into the atmosphere. It occurs as a result of the excessive gases being trapped in the atmosphere.

Carbon is believed to have been in the atmosphere for many years, as a result of chemical reactions from natural and artificial sources such as volcanic eruptions, bush fires and so on.

However, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil for energy is considered to be the greatest source of greenhouse gas emission in the atmosphere, for the last 800,000 years.       

The argument that such natural disasters as cyclones, Tsunamis and avalanches which are precipitated by climate change, are rarely felt in Africa, does take into account the various other manifestations of climate change that are real for Africa as for any other part of the world.

For example, floods due to increasing temperatures have been experienced in the Antarctic Region where polar ice caps have melted under such heat.

 Similarly, seasons have become increasingly unpredictable. In some parts of the world, seasons have delayed or tarried much longer than their normal course with severe consequences on agricultural production.

 Also, climate change is not merely about change in temperatures. It is connected to a range of other issues that have direct or indirect links with our livelihood.

For instance, drought which may be triggered by deforestation and excessive CO2 in the atmosphere has negative impacts on agricultural productivity, which is the primary source of livelihoods for most people in the developing world.

Thus, millions of lives that depend on agriculture for subsistence, for example, may face hunger and famine. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that by 2020 yields from rain-fed agriculture could reduce up to 50% in some African countries; and that between 75 and 250 million people will be exposed to increase water stress due to climate change in Africa.

Hot and dry places provide suitable environments for bush or wildfires with severe effects on fauna and flora.

 Infernos have devastating effects on agricultural land, forest and animals that dependent on land somehow.

Similarly, it could lead to the mass migration, death or even extinction of biodiversity.

According to the IPCC, climate change will put some 20 percent to 30 percent of species globally at increasingly high risk of extinction, possibly by 2100.

The world is currently faced with a mammoth task because if the environmental mismanagement is not controlled very soon, we are very likely to see more of these havocs.

Therefore, countries all over the world should adhere to the international agreements geared toward attaining sound global environmental management.

There is, for example, an urgent need to cut down greenhouse emissions. People should minimise fossil fuel combustion and research more on renewable energy use.

Cutting on greenhouse emission should be the concern of all, because the smallest act of fossil burning at individual level can contribute to carbon emission, the result of which might not surface now but will certainly do so in the long run.

I believe that warming on Earth is going to be on the increase with time, if emissions are not mitigated because, according to the IPCC, the last decade was the hottest decade on Earth.

The consequences of climate change are interconnected as the people, environment, biodiversity, economy, etc. are all affected. The question we should always ask ourselves before going to sleep is: “What has been our contribution to the sustainability of the Earth?”

The future generation challenges all of us to hand over to them a world which is safe and promising.

In conclusion, let us use energy responsibly in order to protect this precious planet, and be able to pass a safe and sustainable environment unto the future generation.