Can We Save Our Communities from being washed away by the sea?

There have been several media reports about tidal waves wiping away communities and leaving thousands of families homeless. This situation is a very sad one because science and technology has offered us tools and means to ensure human lives and properties are protected in the face of such natural disasters.

Photo Credit : Pinterest – SeanDavey

Before we detail why tidal waves are rampant in the past few years, let us take a look at climate change; the number one cause tidal wave and the irregular weather patterns, as well as why we all ought to be concerned about it.

Climate change refers to a long-term change in the earth's climate or the change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns, especially a change due to an increase in the average atmospheric temperature over a long period of time, usually forty (40) years or more.

The Earth’s atmosphere has a natural greenhouse effect where certain gases; water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone in the atmosphere allow the sunlight to enter but absorb the heat radiation.

These gases absorb the heat and keep the average surface temperature on Earth around 14°C. Without the natural greenhouse effect, the Earth’s average surface temperature would be around -19°C. This ensures the important role of keeping the Earth's surface warm and able to sustain life of humans, plants and animals.

There are many influences over the Earth’s climate, which can be distinguished into natural and anthropogenic (human or manmade) factors.

Since the beginning of the 20th century (January 1901), scientists have been observing a change in the climate that cannot be attributed to any of the natural influences of the past but rather human induced change in the climate – majorly from the burning of fossil fuel.

Fossil fuels include: coal, oil, oil shales, tar sands, natural gas, and peat.

How is climate change related to tidal wave?

Climate change is increasing average temperatures in almost every part of the world. The increase in temperatures, particularly, at the north and south poles are causing the ice sheets to melt. The melting ice at the Polar Regions descends into the oceans which increases the volume of water in our oceans.

Photo Credit: BBC

 

Accordingly, the increasing oceans turn to cause severe flooding and high tidal waves during wet seasons in the tropics (like Ghana), sub-tropics and few temperate regions.

Fuveme; one of Ghana's coastal villages. Photo Credit: BBC

In Ghana, sea level rise will directly affect almost all coastal communities in the southern regions of the country.

Metropolitans, Municipals and District Assemblies (MMDAs) such as Cape Coast, Sekondi-Takoradi, Accra (especially coastal communities), Komenda/Edna/Eguafo/Ebirem, Ahanta West, Keta South, Efutu, Nzema East, Ellembelle and many others will be directly be through flooding and coastal erosion.

Coastal communities with sandy beaches stand a higher risk of being affected, especially, if dwellers indulge in practices such as sand wining, a menace which is rampant in coastal communities in Ghana.

Photo Credit: Ghana Live

Indirectly, inland communities would be affected through salt intrusion – as salty water pushes towards inland.

Ecologically, inter-tidal species will be greatly affected and this will eventually affect the species distribution, abundance and diversity within the aquatic ecosystem. This implies that many different types of habitats, with many types of animals, such as starfish, sea urchins, and numerous species of coral will be greatly affected.

There are however measure people living in these tidal-wave-prone communities can take to protect themselves and their families.

First of all, community folks should stop building so close to the beaches and shoreline.

Photo Credit: Citifmonline

Also, for areas such as Accra and Cape Coast, fishermen and community leaders should desist from fetching beach sand for building. Sand Wining is one of the causes of coastal erosions in recent decades for cities like Cape Coast and Accra. Additionally, town folks should protect and plant more mangroves to help curb the rate of erosion.

Photo Credit: Thinglink

The government can create a vigilant task force which would be designated to prosecute individuals who practice sand wining and cutting down mangroves as firewood.

Additionally, a sea defence could be put be in place for the most vulnerable communities – however, such engineered structures are very expensive and might not be available for all coastal communities.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

The urgent response now, is to put a stop to some unfriendly practices that quickens the occurrence of coastal disasters.

Are we going to wait for more innocent lives and properties to be lost before we take action?

What do you think is Ghana’s best move forward to prevent more communities from being washed away by the sea?

 

Written by Rachel Hormeku with consultation from Joshua Amponsem (Environmental Activist).

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