AS thousands of climate change activists from over 200 organisations took to the streets in London to protest the climate crisis in that part of the world, some 40 Ghanaian media professionals were undergoing training on climate change in Koforidua, the Eastern Region.
The two-day intensive training programme was organised by Policy LINK , a global Feed the Future programme in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Policy LINK’s position on climate change and media’s role
Climate Change Lead at Policy LINK, Dr Gerald Forkuor, said the media is an important agent for education and sensitisation of the public on climate change to achieving behavioral change.
He said “journalists are key actors in the policy process and you hold policy makers accountable.”
Policy LINK maintains that “Climate change threatens our livelihoods and economic development. Unfortunately, our actions and activities, including indiscriminate felling of trees, water pollution through improper waste disposal, and unsustainable land management, are worsening the impacts of climate change.”
For Policy LINK, educating the public on the dangers of these practices and the need to adopt environmentally sustainable practices are necessary to foster behavioral change and reduce impacts.
“We consider the media as an important ally in educating and sensitizing the public,” Dr Forkuor states.
Interruptions in biodiversity, conservation threatening humanity
Presenting on Biodiversity and Conservation, Lecturer at the Faculty of Renewable Resources, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Dr Wiston Asante noted that maintaining a wide diversity of species in each ecosystem is necessary to preserve the web of life that sustains all living things.
Quoting famed Harvard University biologist, Edward O. Wilson, Dr Asante said “It is reckless to suppose that biodiversity can be diminished indefinitely without threatening humanity itself.”
According to data on biodiversity, due to the interruptions in the ecosystem, some 75 per cent of the genetic diversity of crop plants had been lost in the past century.
Some scientists had estimated that as many as three species per hour were going extinct and 20,000 extinctions were occurring each year.
Dr Asante disclosed that “about 24% of mammals and 12% of bird species are currently considered to be globally threatened while more than 50 % of the world’s wetlands have been drained, and populations of inland water and wetland species have declined by 5O% between 1970 and 1999.”
Need to tackle land degradation speedily
Senior lecturer at the Department of Natural Resources and Geo-Information Sciences, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Development Studies, Dr Kwabena Asubonteng, advocates increased investment from the government, private sector and civil society organisations to tackle land degradation across the country.
“If the current rate at which land is being degraded continues 95 per cent of the total land globally will be degraded by 2050,” he warned.
Reversing the trend, he said was crucial as about 3.3million people who are mostly in the vulnerable group depend on land for their survival “so we are indirectly denying these people of their livelihoods”.
The manifestation of land degradation could be seen through erosion and decline in soil nutrients which is caused by human induced activities such as agriculture, urban explosion and other natural developments such as climate change, floods and landslides among others.
“Because of our greed we are over exploiting land. We use weedicides which leave residues in the soil. Some farmers in the Northern part of Ghana have said over application of fertilizer had made their soil unproductive,” Dr Asubonteng lamented.