Home > Agriculture, Climate Change > Jatropha is no Solution to Global Warming-Dr Pressey

Jatropha is no Solution to Global Warming-Dr Pressey

The Cultivation of Jatropha to produce diesel fuel as an alternative to the use of fossil fuels to reverse global climactic change has been condemned as a ploy to take land away from the poor.
Jatropha, a short maturing tropical crop that thrives on marginal land is being mooted worldwide as an alternative to the use of fossil fuels to reduce global warming resulting from the combustion of hydrocarbons in fossil fuels.
However, in an analysis on how jatropha could rescue the world’s climate at a two- day worskshop for members of the Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN) in Tamale, Ghana, Dr David Pressey, a Consultant on Integrated Rural Development, said the cultivation of jatropha is no solution at all but rather fuels an economic and political system under which land is diverted from many poor people and concentrated in the hands of a few rich people.
This, he said, constitutes a classical case of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ since jatropha cultivation is based on taking away arable land meant for the cultivation of food crops from poor farmers in developing countries. This serves to deepen rural poverty and would eventually exacerbate the current food crisis by reducing the amount of food produced by developing countries.
Several hectares of land in the Northern Region which ranks among the poorest parts of Ghana with seven out of every ten people living in abject poverty have been put under the cultivation of jatropha. The parcels of land which were previously used to cultivate food crops such as yam, groundnuts, beans and rice were also stripped of all indigenous economic trees such as sheanuts, dawadawa and baobab.
Dr Pressey said it was ironical that developed countries whose highly industrialized economies are based on fossil fuels with huge automobile factories that offer employment to millions are contributing nothing to check global warming while developing countries are being pushed to sacrifice land and food as a solution.
He labeled this situation as unfortunate, saying, “what is required is collective action since developed countries have a greater capacity to redress climate change”.
Dr Pressey described climate change as “a change in average weather not due to natural variability but resulting from human activity and at a pace and scale that threatens human survival.”
He said man works best in harmony with nature and climate change is an indication of the disrespect and abuse of nature as well as the lack of consideration for the interest of others, emphasizing that “we have lost sight that we are part of nature”.
“Many people see owning automobiles and the modern consumerist mode of living as an indication of development while the labeling of some countries as developed and others as developing gives an indication that developing countries are going and must strive to reach where the developed countries are”
“But if developing countries with big populations, such as China and India should adopt the lifestyle of the west, then we are heading towards a disaster. The world is finite and we cannot have unlimited consumption of resources”.
Dr Pressey said as a step towards curbing this trend, Ghana should work to reduce vehicular traffic by adopting a development strategy that allows community schools to thrive, saying, “most of the vehicular traffic one encounters in Accra, Ghana’s capital, is as a result of parents transporting their children to school. Alternatively, the country could also consider an efficient school bus system.”
He said he was not against technology making life easier for man or condemning any group of people to a life of drudgery but technological development should be done in harmony with nature to avoid undesirable consequences.
He said the purpose of the workshop which drew participants from the three agro-ecological zones of Ghana, made up of the coastal, transitional and northern savanna zones, was to help sensitize Ghanaians on the issue since the peoples and government of Ghana, like other third world countries, have been sidelined in setting the agenda for a global solution to climate change which can no longer continue.
Hence, it is an attempt to link communities to the global struggle to address the problem, since most of them in their ignorance blame unfavorable changes in weather patterns that adversely affects crop production on the wrath of their gods and curses and believe that addressing the situation is beyond them since the causes are supernatural.
Mrs Vilma Quarmyne,, Administrator and Co-coordinator of the GCRN said it was unfortunate that Africans who never experienced the benefits of the industrial revolution which led to massive exploitation of the earth’s natural resources and fuelled pollution culminating in climate change are being forced to bear the brunt for addressing the problem.
“African women still travel miles to fetch just a bucket of water. We are being left out of the information age and are fighting for survival on fields that no longer yield anything and rivers that have dried up”. She lamented.
She said it was in the light of the unfairness of the situation as well as its impact on rural communities that radio stations were being empowered with the right kind of information to disseminate at their various stations to whip up awareness and mobilize community action against policies that destroy their environment.
Mrs Quarmyne said the workshop was organized in partnership with Civic Response, a civil society organization dedicated to community rights over natural resources and forms part of a larger project on climate change with support from CARE Ghana.
There were nine participants from three pilot radio stations made up of Radio Ada and Radio Afram Plains in the Greater Accra Region and Simli Radio in the Northern Region.

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