Features Write-Ups

EXTREME LAGOS HEAT WAVE AND TREE PLANTING

Tayo Ogunbiyi

Of late, the heat wave being experienced from across the country is becoming quite unbearable. Coupled with the unstable nature of power supply in the country and incessant fuel scarcity, many people are finding it very difficult to cope. Children are principally worse hit as they develop heat rashes and become naturally uncomfortable, particularly at nights.

According to medical experts, excessive heat has damaging effects on victim’s health as it can lead to dehydration-due to excessive loss of water, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and sometimes death. Among others, critical danger indicators to pay attention to in hot weather include weakness, tiredness, and dizziness, shortness of breath, vomiting and general body disorder.

Experience from across the globe actually validates the reality of the menace of excessive heat. In August 2003, Northern France had a nasty experience of rare extreme heat for over three weeks. The result was catastrophic as it led to the death of over 15,000 people. Same year in England, over 2,000 people died as a result of a 12-day heat wave.

With the current state of heat wave in the country, one only hopes things won’t become worse. Unfortunately, soccour is not likely to be in sight yet as experts at the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) have earlier warned of more hot days, warm night and heat waves ahead.

In Lagos, the situation is even more unpleasant as the metropolis is presently experiencing a protracted heat wave which has ushered in strange hot weather with temperature over and above 32.2oc.

Characteristically, lots of tips are being offered by experts on how to keep abreast of the situation. Top on the bill is a good eating habit that is effectively complemented with drinking of plenty of hygienic water at intervals. Naturally, to fight dehydration, the body requires constant supply of water. Reduction in the intake of caffeinated or intoxicating drinks is also one of the recommended antidotes to the consequences of excessive heat.

It is, however, important to stress that being a direct consequence of the global warming challenge which the entire world is currently contending with, long term solutions as against immediate remedies would be more appropriate and effective in dealing with excessive heat. In this respect, one would like to make a strong case for tree planting.

Trees have been scientifically proven to be very useful as first line of defence in the fight against global warming as they absorb the carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere, replenish the air with oxygen and also contribute immensely to the aesthetics of the environment. They also check erosion and stem the tide of windstorm by serving as wind breakers. On another note, trees are brilliant cleansers. They remove other pollutants through the stomates in the leaf surface. It is considered that trees act as what some call a Carbon Sink, storing the gas in its branches, trunk, leaves etc. instead of leaving the gas to become free floating and further polluting the atmosphere. In this natural function alone, trees directly reduce the growth of the Greenhouse Effect and counteract Global Warming.

Trees also serve the purpose of overall air quality enhancer, and a much needed one at that. They provide natural habitats for many small creatures, and reduce the temperature by providing shade. All in all, a tree is not just a beautiful work of nature standing amongst the many phenomenal picturesque settings of this world; it is a powerful and vital tool for human survival.

Modern science recognizes that without tree manufacturing oxygen, life on earth would have been impossible. As the world concentrates on global warming and its adverse effects on climatic changes, it is imperative that the public be more educated and enlightened on efficacy of trees. Although planting of trees has long been a suggestion to better the earth, there is a desperate need for sustained action at making it not just an annual ritual as it is being practiced in most states of the country but what everybody, especially land owners, must embrace if we are to take the decisive trend of climate change serious.

According to climate experts, human-induced global deforestation is responsible for 18-25% of global climate change. The United Nations, World Bank and other leading non-governmental organizations are therefore encouraging re-forestation and other activities that promote tree planting to mitigate the effects of climate change. Ironically, as simple as tree planting process is, only quite a few pays adequate attention to in this clime. This is not surprising since we are used to waiting for disaster to occur before doing the right thing.

It is in order to alter the trend and preserve the environment that Dr. Samuel Babatunde Adejare, Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment, at a recent ministerial press briefing in Alausa, Ikeja, urged Lagos residents to embrace the culture of planting trees in view of its obvious benefits. According to the Commissioner, tree planting is one of the most valuable tools available to help to provide environmental stability. Consequently, the Lagos state government has concluded plans that will see it planting 10 million trees by 2020.

It has, therefore, become imperative for individuals, corporate bodies, community leaders, religious bodies, NGOs and all tiers of governments to give sufficient attention to tree planting. In view of the enormous importance of trees to the quality of human life, it would be foolhardy to neglect this simple and less expensive venture that is naturally endowed with life giving aura.

With natural disasters occurring across the world, as a result of the abuse of the environment, this is the time for everyone to have a rethink about our attitude to the environment. That we have not experienced monumental environmental tragedy should not be taken for granted as being immune from such. Thus, we must take our destiny into our hands and do all the needful to ward off avoidable natural calamities. Hence, the need for everyone to embrace the tree planting project as well as other such ventures that could protect the environment.

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