In the modern world today, climate change is one of the most complex issues people face, which involves many dimensions – science, economics, society, politics, moral and ethical factors – the intricacy will be around for decades and probably centuries to come.
But before we dwell on the global warming that perpetrates the sophistication of all the causes, let’s quickly identify the evidence on climate change effects on Nigeria, which has a tropical climate with variable rainy and dry seasons that was identified by location. It is always hot and wet most of the year in the southeast but dry in the southwest and northern inland.
The likelihood of warming in the country is projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that covers 3-4o since the country has only two seasons – the dry season, which lasts from October till April that is determined by high temperatures and low humidity – and is affected by warm winds coming from the Sahara Desert to the north in its season. The IPCC also projected that it is likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation will increase in the 21st Century over many areas of the tropical regions in the climate system of Nigeria over time and the world at large.
We all know that carbon dioxide and the heat-trapping gas, which has driven recent global warming, lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, and the planet especially the oceans takes a while to respond to warming. So, even if we stopped emitting all greenhouse gases today, which include gases that have the property of absorbing infrared radiation emitted from earth’s surface and reradiating it back to earth’s surface, global warming and climate change will continue to affect future generations.
Comprehending the consequences and inevitabilities of global warming, the environment and the climate change for the survival of man, experts have been arguing enthusiastically that without the environment man cannot exist since human activities are made possible by the existence of their environment.
Climate change is principally a major problem caused by the increase in human activities if you like; call it human negligence of the earth leading to several direct and indirect impacts on health. These climatic changes have wide-range harmful effects including increase in heat-related mortality, dehydration, spread of infectious diseases, malnutrition, and damage to public health infrastructure, migration of both men and animals among others.
We also have our own experience of climate change disasters like any other countries in the world, for example, the one that struck 25 years ago in the north-eastern region at present comprising Borno and Yobe States, the southern part of Lake Chad, the section of it that lies inside Nigerian territory dried up.
Several years back, the Lake covered an area of over 40,000 square kilometres, whereas it now encompasses a mere 1,300 square kilometres. While the negative trend continues unabated and as land is laid to waste by the rising temperature leading to the rapid southward expansion of the Sahara Desert, farmlands and surrounding villages in the area became barren and were swallowed up by advancing desertification, which led to massive migration of people in search of more fertile terrain from the north east towards the greener plateau and middle belt regions.
Consequently, urbanisation, deforestation, desertification, over population and all kinds of pollution are some of the effects of our interface with the environment. These changes occur as the people attempt to acquire their seemingly endless desire for food, shelter, recreation and infrastructural facilities.
Every time people speak, one could understand that there is an urgent need for awareness on the subject matter. Nigerians need to know the current environmental issues in the country, and possible ways of addressing them as a nation.
No doubt, current environmental issues in Nigeria are closely connected with the population growth. Like any other country, it uses resources to provide residents with good living conditions. However, regular consumption tends to lead to pollution and destruction of the environment. In a situation when you see people in their hundreds busy consuming items of their needs, they shop all they need to their respective homes. What do you think will happen after they must have finished using the items, one wonders what would happen to the used stuff people throw away.
The after effects of all these are the compelling consequences we see in our land today. The grave challenges of oil pollution alone have been witnessed in some parts of the country. The liability accruing to such pollutions have also been extensively discussed by several well-meaning Nigerians.
Interestingly, we can see that the air people breathe in Nigeria is more likely to cause harm than the air in any other country in Africa because we currently have the highest burden of fatalities from air pollution in Africa and the 4th highest in the world with 150 deaths per 100,000 people attributable to pollution.
This discussion on responsibility and liability seems to take a lead and an end to the involvement of the huge multinationals not only in oil players in the pollution saga but in all aspects of environmental filth.
What is now left is for all stakeholders to come together and place more emphasis on the risen hazards of environmental pollution in the country, and also to outline environmental crime liability of the government, in order to fashion out ways for tougher pollution controls if it hopes to effectively combat indoor air pollution by producing safer and more environmentally friendly alternatives because how clean the air is matters to your health.
We can also see that increasing public awareness of air pollution and the burden of diseases that it imposes on the society is an essential step toward making the changes that will improve public health. Nigeria produces more than two million tonnes of waste annually plus an uncontrolled waste burning that contributes to deteriorating air quality. Most people are exposed to household air pollution which contributes to the negative health effects we see today, I believe we can do better because nature is ours to save.