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Extractivism threatens Mother Earth

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By Mercy Kelani

The oil & gas sector causes global warming & climate change.

Since many years back, Nigeria has involved itself with extractivism – an act of removing large quantities of raw or natural resources for the major aim of exporting with minimal processing. It has prominence with the oil and gas sector which produced an estimated 440.774 million barrels of crude oil from January to November 2021. This massive production benefitted the finances of the Nigerian government. This practice, however, has been proven to have massive implications on climate change according to environmental activists.

Executive Director of We the People, Ken Henshaw, asserted that the extractivism in the oil and gas sector is encouraging global warming and climate change as there continue to be an increase in greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. According to Henshaw, major greenhouse gases that are caused by human activity are Carbon dioxide (CO2), Nitrous oxide (N2O), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), Methane (CH4), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6); some of them include industrial gases.

Deforestation contributes to climate change issues.

At a training for students of the School of Ecology on Extractivism, Climate Change and Food Crises organized by Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Henshaw stated that massive global emissions is fueled by generation of electricity and heat through burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas. Up till date, fossil fuels is responsible for most electricity while only a quarter is produced by solar, wind and other renewable sources. Fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) are regarded as massive contributors to global climate change as they account for about 75 percent greenhouse gas emissions and over 80 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

Deforestation, another form of extractivism, also fuels climate change issues in the country. Cutting down of forests for timber, creation of farms and pastures, and other reasons cause emissions. When trees are cut down, they release carbon that has been stored in them for thousands of years into the atmosphere. Forests’ absorption of carbon dioxide makes their destruction limit the ability of nature make the atmosphere free of emissions. The Nigerian government makes massive profit from the practice but input little effort into protection of nature and the environment.

The Earth is becoming an unsuitable inhabitation for humans.

According to Henshaw, the prevailing development paradigm in Nigeria ignores the true meaning of humanity and the rudiments of wellbeing beyond economic indicators and growth patterns. In Nigeria, many communities have been displaced, deprived of livelihood and good health as a result of oil spillage. He therefore asked that there is a re-examination of the essentials of development, sustainability and wellbeing. There has to be an answer to how extraction of natural resources contribute to wellbeing; whether or not multi-nationals can be trusted with private ownership of natural resources that have huge impacts on humans: lives.

Director of Home of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey, affirmed the unsustainability of extractivism as it was introduced by colonialism. This act has put the Earth at risk as it is becoming an unsuitable inhabitation for the people. Climate Change caused by human activity has caused food crises, droughts, sea level rise, desertification, floods, coastal erosion, marked temperature rise and others. These climate change effects has led to conflicts, forced migrations and famines. Despite these challenges, humans lack the readiness to transit to more harmless manners of production and consumption.

Schools of ecology should be established to ensure a livable future.

HOMEF director advised that Nigerians educate themselves on the ecological costs of these oil and gas resources. There should be schools of ecology that provide a framework for the construction of transparent socio-economic relations that grows interaction between people, communities, nations and even Mother Earth. Enactment of these schools will serve as a reminder that there are individuals, groups and communities who are striving to build a livable future. Achievement of this objective brought about the establishment of the School of Ecology on Extractivism, Climate and Food crises. Policy makers were also urged to include youths in policy making.

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