It’s a serious problem. It poses consequences on many aspects of your life and livelihood. It is climate change (CC). However, at the very heart of a true response to this problem, “lies the need to reduce emissions.” (1) Emissions of some so-called greenhouse gases (GHGs), gases which cause earth’s temperature to rise (global warming), resulting in series of disasters including heavier rains, acute floods, extreme droughts, greater heat waves etc., which in turn triggers severe loss of lives and property in many parts of the world.
Often, when these climate hazards occur, many blame it all on the government, ranting about her failure to provide necessary infrastructure and frameworks for combating them. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps our governments have not kept their promises of a safe environment, perhaps they have failed to implement their policies, faking ignorance of multinationals that pollute the atmosphere with tonnes of these GHGs, blah, blah, blah. Leading you to an unequivocal verdict that declares the government or some municipal entity as guilty of CC – never yourself!
But wait, have you considered that tackling CC, much like any other collective problem requires collective responsibility? Responsibility for all: polity and masses alike. Perhaps you never thought you can and should do something about it because you think you are not part of the problem. But indeed, we are all involved, as an expert rightly claimed “climate change begins at home” (2) implying that CC and its attendant problems begin with every individual– in their respective homes. It begins with our actions, alongside the misconceptions (or ignorance) that mould them. For instance, had that next-door neighbour known that the garbage lingering in his backyard causes climatic havoc, he probably would have been more cautious, limiting his wasteful consumption and disposing refuse properly.
Considering the climate-wrecking lifestyle of that hypothetical neighbour, a couple of factors may be responsible. One: he had probably been thinking –perhaps just like you— that CC, global warming and the much-proclaimed GHGs, are not, and can never be his fault. Therefore, he feels no need to do anything about it. Two: he knows that global warming may result from his actions, and would gladly do something about it, but does not know how. Three: he understands the potential consequences of his actions, but believes that he is too insignificant to do anything about it. This man’s mantra is “let the government deal with it,” or “CC is the United Nations’ business”. I wonder whose business it is when in reality, CC daily poses problems that affect us all.
Having highlighted the above circumstances, I enjoin you to sincerely consider various aspects of your daily life, beaming a flashlight on their potential climatic consequences. Have you formed the habit of switching off bulbs and fluorescents at daytime when there is sufficient sunlight? Do you consciously make efforts to turn off and unplug your television set, radio, PC and other electronic gadgets whenever they are not in use? If not, are you aware that such behaviour leads to wastage of electric power and triggers more GHG emissions at the power station which generates your electricity, thus causing more harm to the climate because of your inability to lead an energy-efficient life?
Not convinced? OK. At this point I would like you to imagine how it feels to always walk to that grocery store, or that shop just down the road, despite having a car of your own. Apparently, that sounds ridiculous. But, the truth is, if you take a stroll over that “walk-able” distance, you would be preventing significant amounts of GHGs from been emitted, since cars and other fuel-consuming vehicles release gases which heat up the atmosphere. In fact, these lifestyle practices and similar others were verified by a team of researchers at the University of Lagos in 2011, as ways in which typical adult individuals contribute as much as over 4,000 kilograms of GHGs (in CO2 equivalents) to the atmosphere every single year (3). How massive!
Conclusively, knowing that we cannot possibly exhaust in this piece all the ways in which individuals contribute to global warming through their lifestyles, it is up to every person of integrity who cares, to seek information about how they may be harming the climate. More importantly however, is that we practically discard such habits for more sustainable ones. Remember, mitigating CC is your business too, and as a good steward of nature, you should be ready to preserve the environment for generations unborn.
UNFCCC’s website: http://unfccc.int/essential_background/items/6031.php assessed 25th August, 2013.
Reay, D. (2006): “Climate Change begins at Home”. Macmillan (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire and New York).
Taiwo, E. O. (2011): “Carbon Footprint Assessment in Lagos.” (Unpublished research project).
—About Emmanuel Taiwo —
Emmanuel Taiwo is a postgraduate of natural resources at the University of Greenwich. Having grown up in Lagos, Nigeria’s most industrialized city where overpopulation and intensification of economic activity are causing significant environmental harm, he is passionate about helping individuals and corporate bodies change their practices to become more sustainable.