Climate change: World must unite to save the planet — The PUNCH Editorial

Posted by News Express | 5 August 2022 | 268 times

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Across the northern hemisphere, a foretaste of the apocalypse is unfolding in the form of heat waves, uncontrolled forest fires, displacement and deaths. In Europe, the crisis has already claimed about 2,000 lives in Portugal and Spain and is afflicting thousands in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Greece and others. Humanity is facing the inexorable consequence of its collective failure to hearken to experts’ warnings on worsening global warming. The world must act now with utmost urgency to halt environmental degradation and save the planet.

Some pessimists think it is too late already, believing that the planet has been damaged beyond repair. Most scientists and climate change campaigners remain optimistic, however. But they also warn that the time to act before irredeemable damage is done has narrowed. Less-developed countries like Nigeria that have contributed to this global environmental hazard should learn from this and take drastic steps to implement robust environmental protection action.

In Europe, heat waves have caused the deaths of about 128,000 persons in four decades. Thousands have been displaced, properties destroyed, and social and economic activities affected. In 2022 alone, about 500 wildfires have been reported in England and Wales, compared to the 237 recorded in 2021. In the United States, wildfires have ravaged California, and residents of several other states are under threat. US Climate Envoy, John Kerry, hinted that President Joe Biden is considering announcing a “climate emergency” and symptomatic of how politics gets in the way of needed action, many Republicans in the Congress continue to oppose the radical legislations recommended by experts.

To avert disaster, the world must change how it manages the planet. The Amazon (Brazil), the world’s largest rainforest, is fast losing its vegetation, prompting the Council on Foreign Relations, a US think tank, to warn that failure to take remedial measures could lead to irreversible consequences.

The world should sharply slow down continued fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions that are now at the highest level in human history, according to the United Nations. Other imprudent practices that deplete the ozone layer, led by foremost industrialised nations, have largely brought this calamity upon mankind. Countries should collaborate to reverse the damage, reduce global temperatures and replenish the ozone layer.

Aptly identified by the World Health Organisation as “the single biggest health threat facing humanity,” climate change, fuelled mainly by human activities, is manifesting through extreme weather, excessively hot temperatures, destructive rainfall, extreme flooding, rising sea levels, wildfires that consume even green grasslands, drought and unpredictable weather. This contributes substantially to global food crisis, terrestrial and aquatic species extinction, vanishing flora and fauna, and other hazards.

The message must sink in that no country, no population will be spared in the looming disaster unless definite efforts are made to reverse it. Embracing renewable energy and transiting from fossil fuels is now more critical than ever before.

The United Nations Environment Programme warns that while Africa had contributed negligibly — about two to three per cent — to the changing climate, the continent stands out disproportionately as the most vulnerable owing to its low level of socio-economic growth and lacking in resources needed to mitigate the impact.

The WHO said global warming would affect health determinants like potable water, food sufficiency and secure shelter between 2030 and 2050. It may cause about 250,000 deaths annually, while the cost to health is estimated to be between $2 billion and $4 billion from 2030. Developing countries like Nigeria will be least able to cope.

Leaders at all levels should therefore re-examine Nigeria’s adoption of climate action. Since most parts of Nigeria except the Federal Capital Territory fall under the states, governors and state institutions should develop a robust programme to address the imminent calamity.

Leadership is crucial. The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), should expedite action in establishing the proposed National Council on Climate to implement the Nigeria Climate Change Act. A national action plan should involve all tiers of government, NGOs, global partners, community and traditional authorities and faith-based organisations. Awareness campaigns should be multi-tiered, sustained and inclusive. Importantly, leaders at all levels should lead by example, not precepts.

Nigeria is already faced with the effects of climate change: water bodies like the Lake Chad and several rivers have been severely denuded over the decades in the North; food is becoming scarce as the desert encroaches. Lagos, a coastal state, and commercial nerve centre, is already in danger and must take decisive steps to save its territory. With the state’s unrestrained land reclamation, the warning that the state could be overrun by water in a matter of years should be taken seriously. In addition, the National Emergency Management Agency says 233 LGAs in 32 of 36 states would experience severe flooding this rainy season.

The national tree planting campaign should therefore be revived speedily. The time to embrace cleaner energy is now. There must be aggressive afforestation, and this must be a collective effort. Laws making tree planting compulsory for every property owner should be enacted by the various governments. Youths should be involved from primary school upwards throughout their academic programmes to inculcate lifelong climate action awareness.

The languid National Orientation Agency must wake up to the task of educating Nigerians on this threat. Practices like indiscriminate waste disposal, unkempt drainages, gas flaring and continued use of fossil fuel must be swiftly addressed. Government should support the private sector to ensure that cooking gas is available and more affordable, and thereby discourage the use of kerosene, firewood and other unclean fuels.

The low penetration of cooking gas for a country with proven 209.5 trillion cubic feet in gas reserves should be redressed. Government must expedite action on power supply to eliminate the carbon emission from millions of generators that have become the reliable power source for many. Likewise, illegal logging that has become prevalent must be swiftly halted through relevant environmental laws and implementation.

The world’s leading economies should put aside politics, rivalries, and selfish interests, and unite to save the planet.

Source: News Express

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