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Climate expert urges tougher punishment for bush burning

African Climate Reporters on Saturday, November 4, 2017 warned against indiscriminate bush burning, deforestation, and urged security agencies to arrest anybody caught burning bush.

Bush burning
Bush burning

The Assistant Director, African Climate Reporters in West Africa, Mr Mohammad Zakariyya, made the call in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna.

He said setting bush on fire usually killed many plants, animals and destroyed natural vegetation thereby exposing human beings to many health hazards and diseases.

According to him, setting vegetation on fires, particularly in the tropics, are major sources of atmospheric pollution, affecting large areas of the globe.

“Most fires occur in the dry tropics, where large scale subsidence prevent deep convention associated with rainfall, and thus would not allow the vegetation to become dry enough to burn.

“Smoke has a range of health effects from eye and respiratory tract irritation to serious disorders, such as breathing problems, bronchitis, severe asthma, cancer and premature death.

“The very fine particles in smoke can go deep into the lungs and find particles, by themselves or in combination with other air pollutants, can make pre-existing diseases of the heart and lungs worse,” he said.

Mohammed pointed out that setting bush on fires had so many negative effects on human beings.

He said that it is glaring that particles, carbon monoxide, hydro-carbons, oxides of nitrogen a negligible percentage of oxides of sulphur are the major pollutants of bush burning and they all have various effects on man and his environment, like reduction of visibility and some respiratory diseases.

He added that oxides of sulphur and nitrogen are also hazardous as they cause respiratory disorders and irritants.

“Where there is short-term exposure to smoke, the particles are the most significant threat to public health.

“High levels of carbon monoxide are poisonous to humans.

He said, however, carbon monoxide arising from smoke events does not usually reach levels that pose a risk to the general population, although firefighters and people with heart disease can be at risk.

According to him, forests are greatly helping to reduce the amount of pollutants in the air, so, the depletion of these groups of trees is greatly increasing the risk that carbon monoxide would reach the atmosphere and result in the depletion of the ozone layer, which in turn results to global warming.”

Mohammad also said apart from the soil destruction and desert encroachment caused by bush burning, it also had a marked increase in global warming due to the emission of gases, which have tremendous effect on the ozone layer.

He called on all stakeholders in Nigeria, West Africa, to find means of educating the people of the region on the dangers of bush burning.

By Ezra Musa

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