Monday, 24 November 2014

Rethinking the paradoxes of Greenhouse Effects in Nigeria by Sesan Michael Johnson

Today, as I was driving my Premiere SLX Nissan automobile on my way to work, I was greeted and tormented with a mammoth cloud of carbon dioxides oozing out of the various ill-cars on both sides of the road. It was so worrisome for me because the very commercial bus in my front beclouded my vision with its gargantuan noise and smoke from its silencer – the silencer refused to be silent this blessed morning. It was not until when my six years old daughter (Ayomide), referred to this scenario as ‘hell’ that it dawn on me that the driver or should I say the devastating bus is contributing to the accentuation of the effects of the greenhouse gases thereby eroding the ozone layers – causing global warming.

With no opportunity to escape the ‘hell’ being emitted by the bus in our front, since there is already traffic gridlock along our path or route (Akobo Ojurin road, Ibadan, Nigeria), I seize the opportunity to educate my two daughters (six and four years old)  on what are greenhouse gases, what are their significance and effects?  

For the delights of the readers of this blog, I am auspiciously doing a recap of the dialogue or discourse:

No doubt, life (plants, animals, human beings, etc) on earth depends on energy released from the sun. Scientists had proven that about 30 percent of the sunlight that beams toward the earth is deflected by the outer atmosphere and scattered back into space. The rest reaches the planet's surface and is reflected upward again as a type of slow-moving energy called ‘infrared radiation.’

The heat caused by infrared radiation is absorbed by "greenhouse gases" which slows its escape from the atmosphere. Greenhouse gasses include water vapour, carbon dioxide, ozone and methane. The greenhouse gases make up only about 1 percent of the Earth's atmosphere, and significantly, they regulate the earth’s climate by trapping heat and holding it in a kind of warm-air blanket (the ozone layer) that protects the planet. This process is what scientists referred to as the "greenhouse effect."

Hence, on one hand, greenhouse gasses are very essential to the survival of lives on the mother earth. 
Nevertheless, on the other hand, an extreme proportion of the greenhouse gases are injurious tearing or wearing out the ozone later. The paradoxes inherent in the greenhouse effect is that while the greenhouse effect is an essential environmental prerequisite for life on Earth, there really can be too much of a good thing. The problems begin when human activities distort and accelerate the natural process by creating more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than are necessary to warm the planet to an ideal temperature.

The climate has warmed and cooled many times during Earth’s history. However, the global increase in mean temperature we have observed in the last decades has been both rapid and large. It translates to warmer land temperatures and warmer sea water almost everywhere on Earth. This increase in temperatures has led to increased melting of most of the world’s glaciers.
Human activities have been releasing in the atmosphere many molecules that create a greenhouse effect.  

Therefore, man must beware of his activities that are accentuating the effects of greenhouse gases.  Some of the ways humans contribute to the Greenhouse Effect include: the burning of fuel (petroleum, diesel, etc), coal and oil. Evidently, this raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Without mincing words, the roads of African states, Nigeria for example, are plied by automobiles with bad engines emitting more carbon dioxide than expected. There is a great need to gear up efforts that will ensure Nigerians go for new automobiles instead of ‘second hand’ or ‘tokunbo’ cars. Road infrastructure should be improved upon too.

Also, bush burning and some other farm practices combined with some land-use changes increase the levels of methane and nitrous oxide. This is typical of what is obtainable in most African states where the prominent means of survival in still agriculturally based with crude methodologies. Modernisation and environment-friendly global best practices in agriculture should be pursued aggressively.
Industrial gases discharge by companies in Nigeria must be done appropriately. Heavy industrial discharge contributes significantly to the enhanced greenhouse effect and global warming. In the same vein, deforestation – cutting of trees - also contributes to global warming. Trees use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen in its place, which helps to create the optimal balance of gases in the atmosphere. As more forests are logged for timber or cut down to make way for farming, however, there are fewer trees to perform this critical function.
I agree with Larry West, the greenhouse effect often gets a bad rap because of its association with global warming, but the truth is we couldn't live without it. Ultimately, more greenhouse gases means more infrared radiation trapped and held which gradually increases the temperature of the Earth's surface and the air in the lower atmosphere.

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