“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”- Mahatma Ghandi. The world keeps increasing in population and demand for resources keeps increasing; the thought of this should be enough to inspire the attitude of conservation and ‘ecocentricism’ among individuals. However, world leaders are being economically inclined to exploit more resources to better economy than to secure a healthy ecological environment for future generations. Over exploitation, and other anthropogenic activities is leading to a predictable unsafe environment for future generations.
With our inability to ensure maximum biodiversity- which is essential to sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, food, wealth, energy and the vital services our lives depend on, thousands of species are risk to extinction from disappearing habitats, changing ecosystems and acidifying oceans. According to the IPCC, climate change will put some 20% to 30% of species globally at increasingly high risk of extinction, possibly by 2100. These organisms, ecosystems and ecological processes supply us with oxygen and clean water. They help keep our lives in balance and regulate the climate. Yet this rich diversity is being lost at a greatly accelerated rate because of human activities.
Countries of ecological interest has started campaigning and taking action against global warming and climate change as well as every activity that connote these impacts. On the other side, most developing countries- due to economic instability and temporal resource exploitation benefits do not prioritize climate action.
Most developing countries regard developed countries as more carbon producers and therefore think it’s right for such countries to put a price on carbon, however, climate change is a global phenomenon and its impact will affect every country.
Ghana provides an excellent example of the additional challenges that climate change and variability places on development. It has made significant economic progress in recent decades and achieved middle income country status. Like all other countries, this progress is accompanied by rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and Ghana has moved from being a net carbon sink to a net emitter. The sink decline is due to deforestation. Net GHG emissions rose from an estimated minus 16.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 1990, to 23.8 MT in 2006, with 40% of the emissions from energy, 24% from agriculture and 25% from land use, land use change and forestry (MEST, 2011).
Diseases like malaria which result in the death of most citizens every year in Ghana could become more difficult to control even in areas where it’s currently cold for the parasite to spread year-round. The malaria parasite itself is generally limited to certain areas by cooler winter temperatures since it is not able to grow below 16°C. As temperatures rise, diseases can grow and disease vectors (the carriers that transmit disease, such as mosquitoes) will mature more rapidly and have longer active seasons. A warming planet threatens people worldwide, especially tropical countries like Ghana -causing deaths, spreading insect-borne diseases and exacerbating respiratory illnesses. The World Health Organization believes that even the modest increases in average temperature that have occurred since the 1970s are responsible for at least 150,000 extra deaths a year—a figure that will double by 2030, according to WHO’s conservative estimate.
As part of the Millennium Developmental Goal, food security is one of the sectors that drive most developing countries into famine and extreme poverty. Ghana currently depends on Agriculture for a higher percentage of employment; the agriculture sector provides as with foods and has a significant percentage of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Farming basically depends on the fertility of lands and more importantly weather conditions. Over exploitation in Ghana has led to increased soil degradation caused by soil-nutrient mining, erosion, deforestation and desertification, water logging, falling water tables, over salinization and potentially, climate change render barren the marginal cropland the poor had counted on for survival.
Aside farming, fisheries play a key role in livelihoods for people along the 550km coastline. Fisheries, both marine and inland (on rivers, lakes and lagoons) play a vital role in livelihoods and are crucial for nutrition in Ghana (on the average, 24kg of fish is consumed by every Ghanaian annually). The fisheries sector accounts for 1.4 percent of GDP (Ghana Statistical Service, 2014) and employs at least 2 million people, including 135,000 fishers in the marine sector (Finegold et al., 2010)
The impacts of and responses to climate change have significant implications on the fisheries sector and the lives of poor people (Allison et al., 2005). The marine fisheries are expected to be adversely affected by climate change. Increasing temperature means, increasing ocean surface temperature; Ghana receives bumper harvest which is attributed by colder water surfaces which results in upwelling- regarded as bumper fish catch. With increasing temperatures, sea surfaces will be hotter and will result in most pelagic organisms shifting habitat to depths closer to the benthic zone. Less fish catch gradually will lead Ghana to food insecurity, more food importations and higher economic crisis.
Climate change-related initiatives in Ghana are increasing, and the government is committed to mainstreaming climate change responses into multi-scale and multi-sector planning and policy processes (MEST, 2011). However, there is increasing over exploitation accompanied with these initiatives and therefore there is no significant resulting climate action plans in Ghana.
World leaders are meeting in New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis this September. UN Secretary¬ General Ban Ki-¬moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution. If all nations will agree to the democratically effects of climate change impacts on their citizens and how it can ruin economies, render millions homeless and destruction of natural resources, we can all witness a secured future for generations yet unborn.
The Peoples Climate March happening in the United States of America (New York City), 21st of September will bring together the voices of many climate change advocates not because climate change is just an eventual topic of discussion but a generational impact that we suffers today, tomorrow and generations to come if fervent actions are not taken. Let us all, every individual; raise his or her voice in support of climate action at local and global level.
Author: Amponsem Joshua