Climate Change: From Distant Threat to Present Danger
- Mrs Theresah Npong and her fellow tenants scooping flood water out of their rooms for a drier place to spend the night. Photo: Npong Francis.
Some five years ago emails were released by unknown hackers purporting that climate scientists were engaged in political activism rather than science, in a bid to unearth what was causing Mother Earth to be warming up. At the time, evidence of climate change was inadequate and unavailable to ordinary people.
In these emails, scientists were arguing and challenging the findings and figures of one another, describing what was supposed to be scientific research findings as mere politics and a political game. These emails discouraged those who were impartial towards environmental issues, particularly stakeholders engaged in oil extraction and lumbering. The story of a climate change hoax following these emails is still embedded in the minds of millions of people who, for their personal interest, will never want to change to a more sustainable way of life.
Today, I have personally experienced the brunt of climate change and global warming. I can assure you this is not a distant threat, but already a reality – a devastating reality. Climate change has manifested as a monster looking for opportunities to devour its victims – the poor and vulnerable.
I believe I would not have been alive today to give this testimony about the effects of climate change if God was not in control. My mind went numb on the day my wife and I stood inside the rapidly raising water in our bedroom holding each other’s hands and praying. Death seemed a mere step away.
On 30 June 2012 at about 9:30 am local time, the shining Tamale sun gave way to dark clouds and skies. This was a sure sign warning us of a possible downpour.
What started out as African “showers of blessing” to the earth, ended up in devastation. My family and I happened to be on the receiving end – which turned into a three hour downpour that submerged everything we owned and have laboured for since we started out six years ago. We are almost back to square one and have to start anew. We are lucky to have many caring friends and family within and outside the country who supported us through donations and encouraging words.
During the flood two people were reported to have lost their lives in Tamale. The officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) who confirmed this said they were mobilising some relief items to be distributed to flood victims some who had lost their personal belongings to the flood. Our lives were spared, however we are among the thousands whose belongings were destroyed by the floods. I’ve been living in Tamale since 2005 and have never witnessed such a terrible downpour.
Tamale, which is the forth largest city in Ghana, is located about 124 km away from Accra, the capital city. Tamale, which is the capital town of northern region, is home to approximately 1.2 million people, according to the 2010 population and housing census.
- Clouds over Nalerigu Dam (East Mampurusi District, Northern Ghana). Picture: Npong Francis.
Unlike Japan’s tsunami which was said to have been triggered by an earthquake, the Tamale flood was the result of continuousness rain over a three hour period, which overflowed the gutters and water runways provided by the city authorities and was accompanied by thunderstorm and lighting.
Before the start of the thunderstorm rain, a dry dusty wind blew down trees and ripped off buildings, rendering thousands of residents temporally homeless and forcing them to pair with relatives and friends whose buildings had not been affected.
The terrible impacts of climate change and global warming require no more scientific proof. Today I represent the voiceless – those who have no opportunity to tell the story of how climate change has devastated their lives and livelihoods.
Earth warming has manifested as disastrous heatwaves and floods experienced the world over and are indeed an indication that the earth is moving into a dangerous climate change risk zone and, unless we intervene, will move beyond the point of return. However, it is not too late to wipe the slates clean and eradicate the pollution we pumped into the atmosphere which has caused global warming.
We may take refuge in our selfishness to help deal with climate change but we cannot stay there forever. Our inactivity, and slow responses to climate change conventions, as well as our consistent failures to play major roles in reducing greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions have already killed millions of people and animals.
Climate change, like HIV/AIDS, does not discriminate against race, religion or social status. It is time that we all join hands to tackle climate change before it reaches irreversible proportions. This is my plea to the world: we still have that opportunity to build a green community. Let us not continue to live in stubbornness. We will collectively grieve in silence if we fail to recognise this danger and give it the much needed attention it requires.
This is a distress call from afar, to millions of friends who have suffered the brunt of climate change. Do not remain silent – help raise our collective voice to take action. Climate change is indeed a very a present danger and the time to create change is running out.