Of Floods, Drought and Energy Crisis- Leave Climate Change Alone!

Fri, 15 Jun 2007 Source: Cudjoe, Franklin

A sort of comic relief is invoked anytime politicians try with desperate frustration to lay blame on other phenomena rather than on themselves when problems arise.

Recent floods and energy crisis in Ghana has exposed our cut and paste, ad hoc solutions to problems. We have been playing cat and mouse with rain water for almost 20 years by over relying on it for electricity, erecting structures in water ways and doggedly creating crooked uncovered drains with the hope that rain water will carry away our waste matter. How wrong we have been, as we are given back, often in calamitous proportions what we ‘invested’ in Mother Nature.

The usual chorus is promise of a strict mobilisation of every leg and arm of the law to solve the problem. But all is just vocal power unable to turn wishes into action. Predictably, that line of showmanship fails and an escape goat must be found. So, recent political murmurings of climate change as responsible for our drought, floods and energy crisis should come as no surprise.

Yes, climate change is an ongoing phenomenon, and given the thirty or so years that a climate of an area can be determined, what happens in the intervening years is very important. Of greater importance is an aggregate of these climatic periods for say, the last 150 years. I chose the last 150 years for the purposes of comparison. 150 years ago, extremely hot climatic conditions were experienced globally. Incidentally, it was the same period associated with economic progress in the western world. Probably most of Africa would have made use of its iron age, to develop too, were it left alone by colonialist.

So history and reasoned climate science has concluded that climatic optimums are associated with rapid economic growth whilst cooler periods are associated with low economic growth. In fact, a little over thirty years ago, Climate alarmists told us that the world was getting colder and we were all going to be chilled. Thirty years on, today, the same alarmists say we are getting too warm and would be fried soon. What shows that in my humble 150 year period, the phenomena of hot and cold had not been changing positions every 30 years and we might soon be expecting cooler weather?

What worries some of us is the aggressiveness with which European countries under the leadership of Tony Blair has embellished the problem calling for tougher actions which have the capacity to derail economic progress in advanced countries. Apart from making African poverty a Whiteman’s burden, I find it extremely disingenuous the attempt to make Africa appear helpless in fighting an extremely mythical war on climate, whilst it emits less of the so called green house gases and is confronted with the clear and present dangers of poverty, disease and corruption.

Rather than face up to climate change with reasoned technology, we are engaging in fear mongering and selling ourselves short in the face of limitless solutions our brains can bear. How did the world fight off dengue fever, small pox and other dangerous diseases that reduced global life span of humans to less than forty years? Or how did we overcome the alarmist theory of over population in the middle 18th century when the social scientist Von Thunen predicted death and hunger for a world population which was less that a billion? Aren’t we six billion and counting on the same planet today as improvement in medicine and agricultural technology means lower deaths?. How did we know the earth was spherical until Ferdinand Magellan travelled it in 1522? Weren’t’ many killed for saying that the earth revolved round the Sun? Even in the face of tsunamis, not much of Bangkok was damaged as it had, as compared to its Asian neighbours, high rise buildings and its economy was relatively better than say Bangladesh.

What about the honesty of some of the noisiest supporters of fear-filled climate change? Last year former US vice President Al Gore was exposed as devouring a huge yearly electricity, nearly 221,000 kWh, which is nearly 20 times the national average of 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh). But this is a man, who through his Oscar winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth” urged Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

In Ghana, some environmental activists and rumour mongering NGOs have made the work of politicians pitifully easier by preventing them from focusing on practical adaptation measures to climate change. However, to have Ministers of God joining this fear train means it is only a matter of time, they began questioning the existence of God. By asking the World Bank for free money to form a Christian Coalition on the environment in the face of climate change is in my book a complete departure from biblical ethics. It is like consulting mediums and soothsayers on a known problem and paying them for peddling falsehood. It seems to me it is a complete abandonment of the biblical responsibility to preaching cleaningless-- a mandate the clergy would have performed with a two minute announcement every Sunday that people should keep their surroundings tidy, stop building in water ways and conserve electricity.

But who can blame these ministers of God? Even governments are rushing to set up questionable bureaucracies to fight off climate change because free aid money would be made available.

The best adaptation measure against floods would be to urge the Ghanaian government to enforce its Urban Planning law which has not worked since its promulgation in 1972 except in bath rooms where males and females are separated. Metropolitan authorities must be emboldened to enforce building regulations. As for the energy crisis, the only way out is to fashion out a forward looking strategy of tapping numerous sources, solar, thermal and nuclear included. In the mean time, the aggressive passive behaviour of the energy ministry must give way for a real non-partisan solution while other agents of the government should desist from entertaining promises of end dates, including the famous September 31.

*Franklin Cudjoe is a Humane Studies Fellow of the George Mason University and Executive Director of IMANI, a reality-based think tank in Ghana. For more information visit www.imaniseminars.com

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Cudjoe, Franklin