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CONTENDING WITH EXTREME HEAT WAVE

Tayo Ogunbiyi

The heat wave currently being experienced from across the country is
becoming quite alarming, and to say the least, unbearable.  It would;
thus, be an understatement so state that many of our compatriots 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 have 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. Also, ensuring good
ventilation in residential places as well as regular bathing at nights
has been recommended as panacea for
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
Lagos State government has been urging residents to embrace the
culture of planting trees in view of its obvious benefits. Tree
planting is one of the most valuable tools available to help to
provide environmental stability. Consequently, the Lagos state
government has embarked upon a plan 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.

Ogunbiyi is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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