Certain activities of man produce gases known as Green House gases. These activities are those that involve the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, wood, and petroleum products at oilrigs, vehicle combustion engines and factories. Part of the heat energy that comes to us from the sun is usually reflected back. Green House gases in the atmosphere trap the reflected heat resulting in increased global temperatures. This is what environmentalists refer to as global warming.
The Role Of Green Plants
Carbon dioxide is a major component of Green House gases. Green plants use carbon dioxide to manufacture their food during the process of photosynthesis. In return they produce a benevolent gas, oxygen. Clearing forests for wood or to construct highways thus reduces the world’s natural ability to minimize global warming by regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Significance of Awareness Campaigns
Former American Vice President, Al Gore eventually won a Nobel Price for Peace, following his efforts to bring about progress in the fight against global warming. One of his numerous activities is the organization of concerts with the aim of raising awareness about global warming and its consequences to our planet. In the efforts of environmentalists to combat global warming, raising the awareness of people around the world on the issue is indeed the wise step since the fight against global warming is something that must be fought by the world as a community if it has to succeed. In a situation were people don’t know about the problem it would be impossible for them to know what role to play.
The Role of Africa in Atmospheric Pollution
Industrialized nations have been blamed for their role in the generation of Green House gases that are responsible for global warming. Developing nations like those in Africa also have a share of the blame. Oil producing nations like Nigeria and Angola are among countries in Africa that contribute to atmospheric pollution at oilrigs through gas flaring. Uncontrolled lumbering is another cause of a setback to efforts against global warming and is common in Africa. In Africa were a lot of people live a rural life, the main source of cooking fuel is firewood obtained by cutting down forest resources.
There is also the problem of corruption that frustrates forestations programmes. Since the environmental laws in African countries are generally weak, organizations whose activities result in environmental damages usually do little to minimize such damages. Corruption among public officials is another factor that complicates the issue.
Level of Awareness
Working to reverse the problem of global warming should be everybody’s business. The level of awareness about global warming and its disastrous outcome in Africa is unfortunately low. Programmes aimed at raising awareness about global warming are rare. Generally, awareness campaigns are carried out in English language. They take the form of workshops were the press are invited and educated. They are then expected to relay the information to the rest of the nation. Most people see the issue of global warming as an issue for the educated but issue of global warming is a complex issue that even some among the educated do not seem to grasp. Further more everything here usually ends up at the theoretical stage.
Africa’s Contribution Against Global Warming
Beside Wangari Mathai who won the Nobel Prize for Peace as a result of her contribution to the struggle against global warming, the concern has not gone beyond the level of intellectual exercise by lecturers of Universities and other tertiary institutions. Most people here also think that it is the responsibility of western nations to find a solution to global warming.
The Way Forward
There is the need for African nations to make tangible contributions to global warming. The first and most important aspect of our contribution is an aggressive awareness campaign about global warming. A campaign is not just about throwing money at the programme but ensuring that the money percolates down to its target. Also important is a pragmatic reforestation programme to replace the trees cut down for timber or used as firewood. The use of alternative material for roofing and furniture making can also reduce the pressure on forest resources. We can also work to ensure that automobiles plying our roads release the minimum amount of gases that are deleterious to the atmosphere. Constant and reliable eclectic power can minimize the amount of firewood and coal used as energy source in our homes and factories.