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Opinions of Thursday, 15 March 2018

Columnist: Alhassan Moses Joshua

Climate Change in Ghana, its effects

Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time. This phenomenon concerns itself with a change in long term average weather conditions. The entirety of climate change is caused by biotic processes, as well as variation in solar radiation, plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions. Industrial human activities have also been identified as the primary cause of climate change. Climate change seems like a more soothing name for global warming. The term climate change is often used to refer specifically to anthropogenic climate change caused by human activity as opposed to changes in climate that may have resulted as part of earth’s natural processes. Climate change is a global issue and needs a concerted effort by all nations (Amuakwa-Mensah, 2014). In Ghana and other parts of the world, uncontrolled industrialization processes have brought about the release of nitric oxide and other greenhouse gases such as methane gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

When these gases get into the stratosphere, they become detrimental to the earth’s ozone layer which protects the biosphere from direct impact of solar radiation. Ghana has achieved a low middle income status and aspires to become a fully-fledged middle income country and the future. Even though commitments are being made by the government to put the nation’s oil and gas and other resources to prudent use while sustaining the economic growth and development of the nation and its people, the challenging relationship between the environment-development nexus is the growing threats of global warming, of which Ghana is no exception. Climate change in Ghana has become a serious threat to livelihoods.

According to (Atazona, 2013), drought and flooding in many parts of the Northern Region of entire Ghana has become a yearly worry to the entire nation. People along the Volta banks are constantly displaced as well. In the southern part of the country, indiscriminate human activities has also contributed to climate change, leading to a rise in sea level, which pollutes other water bodies, destroying aquatic life. This has reduced the economic activity of most inhabitants within these areas who primarily fish for a living. Mounds of not being able to find alternatives to raising their living standards would adversely affect their education, health and social well-being.

Again, in the northern region, temperatures recorded yearly usually exceeded previous years, leading to a decline in agricultural production since there is little or no access to irrigation facilities. Fluctuation in rainfall patterns and temperature has also led to an ecological imbalance, causing an influx of pests and diseases. Cerebrospinal meningitis is an alarming issue in the northern region due to relatively higher temperatures as a result of global warming.

In Ghana and other countries, there is no clear evidence of committed response to climate change. Instead, most African leaders prefer to endorse political agreements and agenda instead of working out appropriate ways of mitigating the menace of climate change. In Denmark and Europe for instance, green technology and the use of electric cars is gaining grounds in an attempt to reduce the adverse effects of climate change. The National Climate Change Policy as an integrated response to climate change is a great idea (Technology, 2012). Even though it provides a clearly defined pathway for dealing with challenges of climate change within the socio-economic context of Ghana, it seems not to have any firm grounds in terms of implementation talk less of sustainability.
As once said by the former president of the United States of America (Barack Obama), “Climate Change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now.” Climate change has come to stay. The only options available to us are to adapt by being conscious of this phenomenon or finding ways of mitigating its effects. Maybe we have to stop relying on the government and rather take personal initiatives in sustaining our environment. Maybe acting more and talking less will help.

Industrial companies must seek industrial solutions to reduce carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions. Catalytic abatement technologies have been developed in some countries to reduce carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions by 90%. Selective catalytic reduction mechanisms have also been developed in other parts of the world to reduce nitric oxide emissions since these gases lead to acid rains which affects our environment adversely. We need to reduce, reuse and recycle metallic, plastic and paper based materials and products we use. Earth is the only place we have at the moment. There may be heaven (I believe there is), but until then, let us make earth a better place for us to live.

Amuakwa-Mensah, F. A. (2014). Climate Change and Variability in Ghana: Stocktaking. Legon: Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana.

Atazona, E. D. (2013). Literature Review of the Impact of Climate Change on Economic Development in Northern Ghana. Overseas Development Institute.
Technology, M. o. (2012). Ghana National Climate Change Policy. Accra: MEST.

By: Alhassan Moses Joshua

Department of Agricultural Extension,

University of Ghana, Legon