Sustainability & Climate Change in Africa

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Sustainability consists of fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations, while ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care and social well-being.

We cannot see air, but we all breathe it. An environmental challenge that is plaguing our planet is air pollution. According to the World Health Organization air pollution is a contamination of the indoor and outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.

Did you know about six million Africans risk getting lung cancer as the result and impact of black soot in Port Harcourt, Nigeria?

Imagine waking up every day coughing up black soot, visualize as you put on your clothes each morning and having to dust off black particles,  then walking outside of the door seeing your city covered in soot. This is the reality for residents of Port Harcourt, Nigeria who are not breathing and living in clean air due to air pollution caused by black soot. A black substance/and or residue that left behind after fuel is burned.

Since 2015 residents have endured this environmental crisis resulting in children contracting upper respiratory infections, women giving birth to children with birth defects, and men experiencing abnormalities in their sperm cells not being able to impregnate their wife. Why is this Nigerian city covered in a strange black soot? Was the name of the headline article covered by CNN in 2018. The article states “the cause of the soot has been something of a mystery.” Many activists and residents believe it is the result of the destruction of illegal oil refineries. The Niger Delta is the country’s oil producing region and there are many oil refineries nearby.

The CNN article gives readers a glimpse of the one environmental challenge facing the once known Garden city. The Black River: Whiskey documentary reveals deeper climate issues eroding the region.  A great flood has devastated the area, with water up to the waistline of the people.  With no clean drinking water and food, the people of the land are starved. You feel the pain of the residents as they deal with air pollutants, floods, and deaths.  The documentary tells the story of woman losing her child who was having issues breathing began convulsing and shaking. This mother held her son in her arms as he died. Mourning the loss of her child was even more difficult as there was nowhere to bury him due to the floods. The dark city underwater has impacted the economy, as many businesses have been forced to navigate this new normal moving on in their daily activities.

Sustainability and climate change are significant issues in Africa, where the impacts of climate change are being felt particularly hard. I encourage those reading to watch the documentary  The Black River: Whiskey Documentary to see how climate change has affected Harcourt, Nigeria. A very eye opening film, as this is climate change on a macro level. In your corner of the world look around you and learn how climate change is affecting your area.  Ask yourself how are you may be contributing to greenhouse gas emissions? I believe sustainability and climate change revolve around human behavior and the things we do in and to the earth. The theme for 2023 Earth day is invest in our planet. Invest in your plant to improve the environment not only for your sake, but give our descendants a better, sustainable, and safer future.

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