By: Michael Roberts
Liberians and their international guests had gathered on Capitol Hill, the seat of the government, to celebrate a significant democratic milestone that, for the second time in succession, saw the peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected President to another. The inaugural event’s environment was adorned in red, white, and blue, along with other fabrics that exuded the picturesque African style and beauty. This was the inauguration of 79-year-old President Joseph Nyuma Boakai as the 26th President of Africa’s oldest republic, Liberia.
The colorful event soon crash landed when the newly inaugurated President started showing signs of losing his breath and seeing flashes in his face with slurred words -evidently, there was methane in the atmosphere due to the predisposition of the area to smoke from burned garbage from nearby communities few hours before the event.
President Boakai lost consciousness in the middle of the delivery of his inaugural address and struggled to breathe before his security guards ran to his rescue.
He was, however, among many other guests in attendance who suffered a similar disconcerting scenario with one death reported: a senator from Grand Bassa County fainted and was stretchered out for emergency care; two presidential security guards passed out; one assistant minister also collapsed and another person confined to the intensive care unit.
The unfortunate incident brought the event to an abrupt end to the shock of international guests.
Following assessments by medical experts, it was discovered that the President and all the victims suffered heat exhaustion and mild respiratory distress due to high temperature.
The organizers of the national event made no provision for ventilation of the area despite the growing heat wave caused by climate change.
It was reported that the 79-year-old Liberian leader was wearing thick, African-fabricated clothing with bulletproof underneath it for protection.
According to experts, this made matters worse, especially during the scorching sun, despite the outdoor nature of the program.
It has become a widespread phenomenon across Monrovia and other populated cities that residents would set trash containing vast amounts of toxic substances ablaze to dispose of them.
Due to the government’s inability to remove garbage stockpiles from urban and commercial areas, the citizenry has resorted to burning garbage despite the adverse impacts such habits would have on the environment and their individual lives. This has caused air pollution and an abundance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to reach a crisis point.
According to Global Clean Air, methane, a dangerous pollutant from burning wastes, can result in poor air quality by contributing to the formation of ground-level ozone and particulate pollution. Exposure to ozone and particulate pollution damages airways aggravates lung diseases, causes asthma attacks, increases rates of preterm birth, cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, and heightens stroke risk.
The Indian Air Quality Index (AQI) notes that rising air pollutants have made breathing fresh, clean air impossible. The causes of air pollution have left everyone worried about their health. Air pollution, the largest environmental killer, kills over 17 billion people worldwide. While calculating, that’s up to 2.2 years lost on average.