Prof. Lee Makowski (left), the Chair of Bioengineering of the Northeastern University, welcoming the Okyenhene to the university’s campus
Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin

Global warming: Act to stop world becoming uninhabitable - Okyenhene entreats world leaders

The Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, has told world leaders that the lack of commitment on their part to increase measures to tackle climate change will cause the world to become uninhabitable.

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Such an imminent crisis, he said, would push the survival of humanity and other living species to the brink of destruction and eventual extinction.

To avert such a catastrophe, Osagyefuo Ofori Panin said leaders of great nations that contributed volumes of carbon to damage the atmosphere must initiate the right policies and investments to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“To think that the world will soon become uninhabitable is scary. It will have an incredible impact on our children, leaving them with far shorter lives than today, and it cannot be business as usual,” he said.

Leadership’s failing us

Delivering an address at the Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States of America (USA) last Friday, the Okyenhene cited how today’s rising global temperatures, frequent floods, droughts, extreme heatwaves, wildfires, water, melting ice caps, worsened air quality and the displacement of vulnerable communities had all become “stark reminders of the consequences of our inaction”.

“Leadership is failing us, and I feel leaders of the great nations who contribute volumes of carbon to damage the atmosphere are not doing enough.

Leaders sit at round tables to drink tea and laugh without any concrete solution to the catastrophic phenomenon of climate change.

“The world is heading towards an apocalypse and we will soon perish.

All of us, if we continue in our insatiable quest to enlarge gross domestic products (GDPs) and to increase shareholders’ value to build big corporate profit, face imminent danger,” he said.

Invitation

The Northeastern University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute invited the Okyenhene to address faculty members and students on the back of the immense leadership role he plays in environmental conservation and protection.

Adorned in royal garment, the Okyenhene said climate change was not a distant threat but an imminent crisis, and that world leaders needed to take meaningful action now to safeguard “our future”.

“Today, the planetary life support system is in jeopardy as the food people eat, the water they drink and the air they breathe are under siege,” he said.

To meet the demands of exponential population increase, he said agrochemical companies spread pesticides on farmlands to produce more, overlooking the use of chemicals that destroyed “precious environment and habitat”.

“Every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals from the moment of conception until death,” he quoted renowned American marine biologist conservationist, Rachel Carson, as saying.

Worryingly, Osagyefuo Ofori Panin said developing countries, such as Ghana, were particularly vulnerable to health and environmental damage as they lacked the regulatory mechanism needed to evaluate risks thoroughly to ensure that chemicals were used according to instructions.

Empower local people

Dwelling on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Okyenhene expressed worry that since the world agreed on the 17 goals in Paris in 2015, very little progress had been achieved.

He said the 17 goals would not be achieved if they were only left in the hands of appointed technocrats without local ownership.

“Development is not something you do for people.

The principle of empowerment that allows people to move at their own pace should be adopted.

“In short, development can only work and be effective when the poor themselves are in charge; when they become owners of the process and the results,” he explained.

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Arduous task

The Okyenhene said some of the actions taken by world leaders had brought humanity untold consequences.

He, however, said with strong leadership, “we can repair some of these damages over time, and with the right policies, we can regain the respect of nature”.

He referred to scientists’ warning, indicating that “hitting net-zero emissions by 2050 is now too little too late, and we will not achieve the long-term temperature goals identified in the Paris Agreement”.

“We have an arduous task on our hands.

A shift in emphasis towards net-negative emissions using methods such as carbon capture and storage is the only viable option,” he said.

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Respect rule of nature

Dwelling on the rule of nature, Osagyefuo Ofori Panin advocated the need for people to live in harmony with their environment and not dominate and destroy it.

“Our forebears knew, recognised and respected the importance of the rule of nature that caused them to see the earth as a sacred place.

“Because our forebears had no desire to place the sources of their survival — natural resources — into the stream of commerce, they were viewed as ignorant.

“And because their value system was based on relationships and not currency, they were believed to lack the capacity to live civilised lives.

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These were the thinking of the early Europeans,” he said. 

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