Ignorance could often be considered a significant factor of influence in the wise of the low-level perception of climate change among the common people of the developing world, but a more obvious pointer is their decried poverty state which has negatively influenced their take on the climate issue. The fact is that their common orientation towards devising a more or less daily surviving strategy way outweighs their relative concern for the inevitable change which in most cases they tend to term as not relevant considering their relative state of living. In a lot of respect, the premise is not that they do not feel or perceive the dangerous changes, in fact, these set of people, who make up the larger proportion of the developing countries’ population have come to recognise the fact that there are changes already well obvious around their respective environment and which in a way have been impacting their respective livelihood support systems.
The recent report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls for a timely intervention as climate change has started affecting food security and a worst-case scenario has been predicted as an inevitable future occurrence if nothing is done. Now the perception is a call for global interventions, which would include individual responsibilities as a precursor to a complimentary alliance of stand.
As important as this preceding premise may sound, it has not yet resulted into a significant move of change by the average citizens of the developing world most especially the people of sub-Saharan Africa where the average living standard is categorically low on the global scale. Additionally, it is a common fact that the regions are well susceptible to political insurgencies, civil/social unrest and poor governmental system. All of these factors have been sort of prevailing problems which have greatly subjected this category of population to untold hardship and pains and in a lot of way have influenced their adopted attitude to their environment as issues they term as secondary.
In my field experience as a climate change activist and a social change maker in a developing country, I have often noticed a biased sort of mindset and attitude among my audience in the regards of their respective take on climate change issue. Most times the responses have been a little disturbing as they all tend to be on the indifference side. On a point of inference, they tend to accept the notion of the changes around them as a phenomenon that goes beyond their human reasoning and could be attributed to as acts of God in probably punishing the humans race for their sinful nature and in another wise they tend to accept the changes as normal and as one of those proposition of the west.
Of course a general inference can be deduced from these responses; ignorance and a common base of poverty, which only allows for a one way thinking of making ends-meet first before any other issue. However this biased notion and perception is not limited to the ignorant or the illiterates but also the educated and literate lots. Often they claim to have heard or come across issues concerning climate change but often I tend to obtain a general conclusion of ‘it’s the responsibility of the government to intervene’. This obviously leaves out the option of personal or individual commitment. The youths are not left out as their attitudes records a more disturbing response of indifference, the general notion has been to make a living first and strive to live out of the reach of poverty. So in most cases, the much expectations of optimism from the youths is often quite discouraging and in the end, just a few youths are found taking a stand and making the move for the desired changes.
The average socio-economic situation in most developing countries has rather made it difficult for the general acceptance of a common and individual stand to combat climate change and its impacts. In a way they tend to bear more pains under the impact of climate change, although their respective population contribute less to the global green house gas emission, their quota of responsibility is however low compared to the impeding danger. Of course, there could be a level of supposedly injustice as they have contributed less to global warming and yet they suffer the most, but a notion worthy of taking cognisance of is for the fact that the impact of climate change is going to be felt by everybody on this planet and no population would be left unaffected as the threat becomes more real. So the time calls for a unanimous move and intervention by the lots around the globe, despite the differences and prevailing problems, we have a much bigger problem that will claim the future we are trying hard to live in.
To make a lot of difference the governments have a major responsibility, a feasible level of commitment that will reflect in the well being of the society to maintain a standard of living that would help fast track a significant attainment of mindset with the rest of the world in ensuring a global stand against climate change.
As the world prepares for yet another climate treaty come 2015, a serious outlook towards making a concrete and legal binding agreement is very necessary now, the issue of non-compliance and stand-alone should be matters of exclusion and a well charted way forward is greatly expected to help save our future. Even though the developing world may not have the capacity and the technologies to adapt in this era of climate change, yet there are lots of alternative means that could easily be adopted to ensure a meaningful level of commitment toward a global stand. Also the developed world should fast track the delivery of their respective commitments and leave up to the global expectation of doing rather than stalking.
The world is done with waiting and procrastination, a bit of tarrying could only mean one thing: ‘Disaster’.
By Bamidele F. Oni (Executive Director, Green Impact International)