Global Warming Warning
African Environmental Watch Holds Conference at BSU
By Auburn Mann
Global warming is one of the most prominent issues of the 21st century, as the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increase the planet is gradually increasing in its overall climate, causing coastal erosion and floods, widespread ice melting, pollution of water, destruction of agricultural products, and proliferation of diseases, and overall environmental wreckage.
The African Environmental Watch in collaboration held its 3rd Annual Environmental Conference on Africa on Oct. 30 in Room 107 of the Wiseman Student Center, focusing on global warming and of its impact on Africa and especially the country of Liberia.
The program opened with invocation conducted by Julius Soku, then followed up by a few opening remarks from Executive Director Morris T. Koffa who thanked the Bowie State University administration for the utilization of the facilities, as well as all who attended the conference.
Dr. Otis Thomas, chairman of the Department of Communications at Bowie State gave an inspirational speech on the importance of Africa's wellbeing, saying "According to science with the oldest human remain was found in Ethiopia, therefore we are all descendents of Africa, and shouldn't neglect it." Then Dr. Roosevelt Newsome Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Bowie State gave his comments and hopes for the conference and ultimately its uncovering of a solution.
Ambassador John W. McDonald, president of Institute of Multi-Tracking Diplomacy and author of the UNEP, delivered the keynote address. In his remarks, he spoke about his experiences working with diplomatic relations between United States and Liberia, since the early 1990s. He mentioned how he has served on committees for environmental improvement in Liberia and many of its West African neighbors by focusing on three crucial components of healthy environment.
First, a country must possess the political will to keep environmental well-being as a top priority, McDonald said. Secondly, international involvement or aid from other countries in terms of exchange of resources, legitimate monetary backing, or by physically sending in support is imperative in maintaining favorable environmental conditions. Lastly, education is key to promoting a healthy environment, adding that setting up schools and conducting seminars and conferences that instruct on the proper ways to create and maintain a healthy habitat would go far in helping to improve environmental settings.
McDonald also mentioned how he and others of the UNEP committee taught women of a village outside of Monrovia, Liberia how to use a pump that had recently been installed for purer water. This accompanied by a workshop that was to provide techniques on more effective agriculture.
Following this was Koffa's presentation which was right on point with the purpose of the conference highlighting many of the effects of global warming on Liberia. Such as, the recent flooding in recent weeks that has negatively impacted Liberia and much of West Africa in terms of the extreme reduction water sanitation in this region.
According to Koffa, in urban areas 85 percent of people have access to pure water and in rural areas only 38 percent of the population does. This lack of sanitation has caused harm to the quality of the region's agricultural production. Koffa displayed slides of the damage these floods have caused to the agriculture in Liberia. The photos showed devastated farms and crops that resulted in many shortages in food supply, and unhealthy, hazardous food. He also showed slides of unsanitary markets with trash and garbage scattered throughout, which have caused the outbreak of many diseases including cholera, malaria, Ebola, tuberculosis, guinea worm, and other deadly illnesses, he said.
Even though global warming and other natural actors have been the main contributors to this situation, there another factor at work, specifically in terms of the continuation of these conditions in Liberia and other developing nations, Koffa said.
"Much of the increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are from Western and highly industrialized nations that constantly manufacture large quantities of goods such as, automobiles and motor vehicles, buildings, etch that are prone to excrete high amounts of Co2 carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide , and hydrofluoric, chlorofluoric, and perfluoric-carbon gases, which effects the entire planet but poorer countries who can't afford many of the self -preserving techniques which heal or prevent western countries from this suffering," he said.
Koffa also mentioned that the wealthier nations should be doing more to help out developing ones to overcome these complications from global warming. According to statistics on average out of every 1,000 births in Liberia 200 of them will not survive. At this rate over 25 million will die by the year 2050.
On the positive side, these Environmental Conferences on Africa have been instrumental in raising awareness and concern for environmental wellness for the continent and have initiated programs that have brought relief there, Koffa said. This includes the repairing of homes and buildings that have been severely damaged from the flooding , the installation of pumps to filter in cleaner water to secluded villages, and providing greater access to medicine and sufficient treatment through collaboration with Africare, and the insertion of educational resources such as schools, and even workshops that assist in environmental improvement throughout Liberia.
Many of these acts were sponsored by generous donations from individuals and organizations who have been deeply inspired through the previous conferences, as well as from funds raised during exhibition events such as the soccer tournament that took place Oct. 24 in honor of the retiring president of Africare Julius Coles, organizers said.
Although, African Environmental Watch has made great advancements in the environments of Liberia and other West African countries, it still should not fall solely on their hands, organizers said. Other international organizations and countries with the means should assist in this effort to create a humane habitat for fellow human beings. As Provost Newsome stated: "Global warming is a global problem and requires global solution."