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MARK Twain once remarked "Everyone complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." Now it is becoming apparent to scientists that despite the fact that we can do little about the weather next month, we are doing things that will determine the global climate at the end of this century. Burning oil, gas and coal puts a burden of exhaust into the world's atmosphere.
These exhaust gases will eventually be absorbed into oceans and forests, but not before they cause a slow, dangerous heating of the global atmosphere. During the 20th century the carbon dioxide released in industrialised countries caused the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to increase by 40 per cent. The concentration of this gas product from burning of wood, petrol, diesel and coal is increasing more rapidly in the 21st century.

The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Panel on Climate Change has brought to the world's attention the seriousness of the problem that will confront us toward the end of the 21st century if the present wastage of fossil fuels continues. Three Nigerian scientists were honoured along with several hundred other scientists who served as members of the IPCC.

As a U.S. citizen I have a special concern, since we Americans have a wasteful style of life. We waste a lot more energy per capita than any other nation. Fortunately, one of our retired politicians, Al Gore, has been mobilising world opinion for action to prevent catastrophic climate change. He has done this through his film Inconvenient Truth. This inconvenient truth is that our continued loading of earth's atmosphere with carbon dioxide will lead to disastrous climate change. This is as certain as any scientific projection about the future of the world can be.

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It is inconvenient because it imposes a responsibility on users of energy everywhere to restrict their use of energy. We also have to use energy more efficiently. This is inconvenient to nearly everyone except the peasant farmers of the world. Nearly everyone else rides to work in some form of motorised transport. Industries and modern homes use energy, often inefficiently. To restrict our energy usage and wastage will not be convenient. Nevertheless it must be done if climate catastrophe is to be delayed or avoided. The importance of Al Gore's film was recognised by giving him a share in the Nobel Peace Prize along with the IPCC.

In his address in Oslo when he accepted the Nobel Prize Gore said, "The distinguished scientists with whom it is my greatest honor to share this prize have laid before us a choice between two different futures - a choice that to my ears echoes the words of an ancient prophet: 'Life or death, blessings or curses. Therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.' We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency, a threat to our civilisation." The Secretary General of the United Nations has added his voice to the Nobel laureates calling for change.
Ban Ki-Moon called climate change, "The defining challenge of our age." The U.S. administration last week reversed its refusal to negotiate specific targets for limiting greenhouse gases. Until the last day of the UN Conference on Climate Change on the island of Bali, the U.S. was obstructing efforts to negotiate a successor treaty to the Kyoto Accords that Nigeria signed in 2004. The Kyoto Accords are due to expire in 2012. The Bali agreement committed the subscribing nations to negotiate limits on the production of greenhouse gases.

The international oil companies have been trying to evade their responsibility in the matter of climate change. One way they do this is to fund studies by eco-skeptics, the people who claim that the IPCC is in error. They seem to be funding people like the British eco-skeptic Stuart Dimrock, who brought suit in a British High Court against the use of the film Inconvenient Truth in British schools. Dimrock would not disclose to the media who were his backers financing the suit against the government for using Gore's film in British schools.
Roger Harabin of the BBC commented on Mr. Justice Burton's verdict on Dimrock's suit, "(The belief) that many leading experts question if human activity is contributing to climate change is simply untrue." Mr. Justice Burton found nine "errors" in Al Gore's film. However, he did not block the use of the film in British schools because of these minor errors. It should be noted that the film deals with projections, scientifically accepted projections. A few unsound projections in Inconvenient Truth should not obscure the message of the film, because there are many independent lines of evidence from the study of ancient and modern climate changes.

Climate change will very probably have disastrous effects in coastal cities around the world, cities like New Orleans and Lagos, if action is not taken now. This is because ocean levels are bound to rise if and when the large, land-based glaciers of the Arctic and Antarctic begin to melt. Once this process begins, it will accelerate, since the bottom layers of the glaciers will melt first under pressure and the heavy top layers will begin to slide down the slope into the ocean faster and faster.
Climate change in the future will be largely caused by human activity - by the increasing use of fossil fuels due to industrial progress around the world. Carbon dioxide is the gas that is produced when fuel is used or wasted. The flaring of natural gas by the oil companies operating in Nigeria is one of the leading African sources of carbon dioxide. The 2003 Nigerian government report on the emissions of greenhouse gases estimated that gas flaring was contributing as much to global warming as all of the useful burning of fuels in Nigeria. Some years ago the companies producing oil and flaring the associated natural gas in Nigeria agreed with the Federal Government that they would put an end to flaring by 2008. These same oil multinational companies are now reported to be lobbying the Federal government to postpone the January 1, 2008 deadline by a year or more.

Instead of flaring natural gas it is possible to re-inject it into the ground for future use. This requires some investment, but it has been technically feasible for half a century. Gas that cannot be gathered for liquefaction or electric power generation should be re-injected into the ground. If the Nigerian government wants to eliminate the wasteful flaring, it should impose meaningful fines on the oil companies for continuing the practice. It seems to me that flaring will end only if the oil companies have to pay fines commensurate with the investment required for utilising or re-injecting gas.
In 2003 the energy wasted by flaring this national heritage was roughly equal to all the fuel energy used in Nigeria. The government can end this waste if it takes the interests of its citizens more seriously than its relations with the capitalists controlling the oil industry. History may not judge kindly those politicians who ignore the climate change issue. A headline in The Guardian last July 5 read, "Lagos, Bayelsa, Rivers may be submerged in 50 years." This can be prevented or delayed if politicians and oil companies give responsible leadership in combating climate change.

lagos..Port-Harcourt..Abuja..Kaduna.. Owerri..Edo.. AkwaIbom..Ibadan..Enugu

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Comment by Olajide Adekeye on July 10, 2009 at 2:08pm
Youths represent a large and important body of society and have historically been at the forefront of campaigning about all major social issues, such as anti-globalisation, corruption and poverty. The most important issue of our time and future generations is Climate Change and therefore it is up to take action!
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