Heavy rains in March, snow in Tamale

Fri, 21 Mar 2014 Source: Essel, Kojo Cobba

; hello climate change!(2)

“Then there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed…….every Island fled away and the mountains could not be found.” Rev 16:18-20.

Is it possible that humans over the years have been destroying our planet that will eventually lead to the above scenes? Could this have something to do with Global Warming/Climate Change? What practical steps can we take as individuals to bring a positive change or at least better place us to reduce the impact. Do not sit on the fence, everyone makes a difference no matter how small you think your contribution may be.

This week I bring you the concluding part of my interview with Dr. Ama Essel (AE), a Climate Change expert.

KCE: What role do the greenhouse gases play in climate change/global warming

AE: Greenhouse gases are naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere including carbon dioxide which help to maintain the surface temperature of the earth. However, due to human development the concentrations of these gases especially carbon dioxide have been altered and has led to an increase in average global temperature. This global warming has led to a myriad of effects in various sectors of life. These include unpredicted extreme weather events, sea level rise, flooding, changing seasons, droughts, decreased agricultural productivity, changes in ecosystems and various health impacts to name a few.

KCE: What are some of the changes to human health and social systems that climate variability and climate change may cause?

AE: There will be rippling effects on human health and social systems, food productivity and development. For example it will affect incidence of malaria, diarrhoeal diseases, new or re-emerging diseases, mental health challenges, malnutrition and stunting. Some cereals, fish and other agricultural products will not thrive and disease to livestock will increase..

KCE: How should we approach the “fight” against Global Warming/Climate Change?

AE: We must reduce the impact of climate change through individual effort, national/governmental will and effort and through international agreements.

As individuals we can conserve energy at home, use less biofuels, and avoid indiscriminate burning and cutting down of trees. We should encourage car pooling for instance to reduce fuel consumption while reducing exhaust fumes. Use energy saving bulbs, use improved stoves which conserve energy and decrease soot, avoid use of old electrical gadgets like fridges which will contaminate the environment to name a few..

To adapt to the impacts of climate variability and change which are already occurring we can ensure greening of our community, know about Early Warning Systems in the country and what to do as individuals, know about your occupation and how it will be affected by global warming/climate change. Start an alternative livelihood or trade if your occupation will be largely affected by climate change etc

We must encourage our government to set policies and implement programs to decrease climate change and its impacts.

As individuals, NGOs and CSOs we must advocate for fair and equitable international agreements that will benefit our countries and bring about sustainable development.

KCE: Knowing our occupations and how it may be affected by Climate Change; apart from health and farming can you give us an example of an occupation that may be affected and how we can prepare?

AE: Fishing and Tourism for example may be affected. For fishing; bumper harvest for certain species may dwindle (may decrease in quantity or frequency) or seasons for the harvests may change. Fisherman should work with fishery experts to know new healthy types of fish to bring in or start some form of fish farming.

Tourism may be affected because some regions of the world which were very cold may become warmer and people may prefer to go on holiday within their warmer continents rather than come to Africa for example. This may adversely affect the tourism industry if measures are not taken to improve it making travel here worth more than just for the weather. Tourism companies should look for more and alternative avenues for attracting tourists.

KCE: Starting an alternative livelihood or trade sounds scary. Can’t we just do things in a safer way and if that is not possible who will assist people to learn new skills?

AE: Scary yes but in some cases for example if you grow one type of crop only and studies predict that the climate will not support that in the next 10years it is better to shift to alternative types of crops (more climate resistant), mechanized farming or alternate trade if that is more cost effective.

The government is in the process of completing a very detailed Climate Change Policy that will outline steps we plan to take in key sectors in the country to collaboratively address these issues.

KCE: You spoke about international agreements. What exactly do they entail?

AE: Simply put these agreements seek to establish actions to be taken by developing and developed countries to halt climate change and adapt to the impacts already happening. These agreements seek to set a platform where all countries can meet some set standards for sustainable development and for funding availability for developing countries to implement adaptation and mitigation policies. It has been tough to conclude on these and individuals, organizations (including NGOs) should advocate supporting negotiators.

KCE: What will be your final words for today?

AE: It is worth knowing that in considering climate change policies it is important to emphasize the important but differentiated roles and responsibilities of men and women (gender). Gender roles and responsibilities are crucial in mitigating or adapting to climate change. For example more women are engaged in substinent farming. If you plan to change this to mechanized farming the tools to be used should be fashioned to be user friendly to women.

Thank you very much Dr Ama Essel and I believe that we will be able to discuss climate change/global warming again in the near future.


Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel, MBChB, MBA

Moms’ Health Club


*Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.

Thought for the week – “Get healthy! Join our Corporate Health Walk in May. Send an email to info@healthclubsgh.com for details”

Resource Person

1. Dr. Ama Essel, a Climate Change expert.

Columnist: Essel, Kojo Cobba