Minimizing Climate Change by Handcuffing Deforestation in Ghana With Cultural Practices

In recent times, there have been big talks regarding the high amassing of greenhouse gases that result in the skyrocketed rise in the earth’s temperature causing global warming. In estimation, the increases in the earth’s temperature intensified in the dawn of 1970s when human activities soared it up considerably by almost 1C. Naturally, the green house effects in the appropriate balance is required to regulate the right hotness and coolness that the earth requires. However, when the greenhouse gases increase at an abnormal rate, it results in an imbalance which is unfriendly to human life. This imbalance in the earth’s atmosphere results in extreme or severe drying (droughts) and melting (floods) which brings very dire and harsh consequences to the lives of humans and the environment. These harsh conditions include desertification, an increased melting of snow and ice, the rising of sea levels and the upsurge of intolerable hurricanes and cyclones. These unfavorable earth conditions cause uncensored heavy downpours that lead to flooding of farms and cities. Also, there is an introduction of new pests that mercilessly destroy farmlands, lakes and other water bodies. The habitats of many biodiversity species are modified and/or destroyed. This condition has led to the high rise in the numbers of endangered species and species extinction globally. In terms of disease outbreak, the effects of global warming increases the likelihood of disease infections such as asthma and allergies due to the high rate of air pollution.

One of the chief causes of global warming and its accompanying climate change is deforestation. Deforestation often results when there is the aggravated clearing or burning of flora species and the destruction of forests for farming and other forms of agricultural activities. Deforestation intensifies the concentration of the greenhouse gases, particularly, carbon dioxide and methane. The indiscriminate cutting down of trees and clearing away of farmlands for agricultural activities often cause disturbance of soil compositions, increases in soil erosion and nutrient leaching as well as increases in the decomposition rates of converted soils which create carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, deforestation ends up reducing the number of trees that are supposed to naturally absorb carbon dioxide which is the most common green house gas that triggers global warming and climate change. To halt the uncensored cutting down of plants and trees as well as the destruction of the forests, the traditional councils in local communities of Ghana have long ago instituted robust cultural practices that serve as traditional check or moral regulator on the behavioral attitudes of their society members. One of such resilient and productive cultural practices is taboos.

Taboos are resilient prohibitions on what to do and what not to do in the society. A breach of any of these taboos is tantamount to disrespect of the ancestors, spirits and deities as well as disregard for the powers of the chief and his cabinet of elders. This attracts severe bi-fold consequences of spiritual and physical punishments. Spiritually, a defaulter of the taboos is believed to kiss the wrath of the angered spirits which can be instantaneous death, madness, infertility and extreme poverty. Physically, the traditional council imposes huge monetary fines for the culprit to pay. Sometimes, there is a confiscation of the property of the defaulter such as farmlands for a given period. Due to the resilient nature of these sanctions, society members always endeavor to heed to them. Interestingly, many of these taboos are eco-friendly and bars against the unbridled cutting of flora species and the clearing away of the forest.

For instance, there is a taboo barring against the cutting of young flora species. In most of the local communities in Ghana, young trees are not supposed to be cut down. Also, cut down trees are supposed to be replaced in triplets to appease the deities and ancestors. Due to this prohibition, there is always the maintenance of the sustainability base and abundance of flora species to consume the excessive carbon dioxide gases in the environment.

There is also a taboo against the destruction of the forest vegetation bank around rivers, lakes and streams. Farmers are required to leave not less than 10 metres forest vegetation bank around water bodies. This prevents high evaporation that would have contributed to global warming.

Also, there is a general cessation of harvesting for all flora species during specific taboo days and closed seasons in the year. This taboo also regulates the duration of harvesting of flora species which would have led to deforestation. Interestingly, highly economical tree species that are most times felled are tabooed in most of the local communities. Special purification rites are supposed to be performed with the members of the traditional council in the known, before the regulated cutting of such tree species is allowed. This helps in controlling the wanton cutting of the flora species in the environment.

It is distressing to know that due to globalization and its unregulated impacts, the powers of the traditional councils in many of the local communities in Ghana are waning. This has affected the resilience of the observance of taboos in some of the local communities in Ghana. Therefore, there is the urgency for the government of Ghana to pass a legislature to heighten the powers of the traditional authorities in the local communities. This would assist them to smoothly carry out their productive cultural instruments such as the environmentally friendly taboos. This would aid in halting all forms of negative environmental activities such as deforestation to add culture’s contribution in minimizing the emission of greenhouse gases that causes global warming and climate change in Ghana.