CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Climate change is a phenomenon gradually developing itself into a major concern for humanity. It is a process that increases the sea levels due to melting of ice and the repercussions for the environment is that areas close to sea level and slightly above sea levels a
re likely to be submerged in a few years from now. This means, the coastal areas and areas around flood plains and river channels are likely to be given a quit notice pretty soon! We are beginning to see this manifestation in the displacement of several thousands of people by uninvited flood! As if this is not enough, tectonic activities within the sub-surface are contributing their own quota to rising sea levels. We will look at the tectonic activities next week. This week, we shall be discussing climate change and its implications for the environment. To do this, DrillBytes sought the opinion of a Nigerian expert on climate change, one who has shared papers and workshops with the former United States Vice-President, Al Gore and several others. Mr Olusola Olutayo-David’s submissions on the subject are here, served fresh.
Climate change is a change in the statistical properties of the climate system when considered over long periods of time. Regardless of cause, climate change refers to an increase in average global temperatures. Natural events and human activities are believed to be contributing to an increase in average global temperatures. This is caused primarily by increases in greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Climate change has been confirmed following release of the 4th inter-governmental parliament on climate change, IPCC assessment report. Africa will be worst hit by the effects of climate change and Nigeria is no exception!
Nigeria is experiencing adverse climatic conditions with negative impacts on the welfare of millions of people. Persistent droughts and flooding, off season rains and dry spells have sent growing seasons out of orbit on a country dependent on rain-fed agriculture. The effect of climate change is evidenced by the rise in sea level and erosion along the nation’s coastline. The weather pattern is no longer distinct in the country and for this reason, we have witnessed very hot weather conditions and high precipitations leading to flooding which ruined crops in parts of the country creating food scarcity.
Climate change is currently threatening the world order, and Nigeria is no exception, by causing significant economic and ecological dislocations and by bringing about greater water stress and scarcity, on one hand, and on the other hand, causing increased frequency of storm surges, and heavy rainfall of long duration or high intensity. One of the most frequently occurring and devastating natural disasters, occasioned by climate change, is flood (Potschin, 2009). Nelson (2001) views flood as a natural consequence of stream flood in a continually changing environment while Sada and Odemerho (1998) and Leonard I. Ugwu et al.(2013), define climate change as unusually high rates of discharging, often leading to inundation of land adjacent to streams, which is usually caused by intense or prolonged rainfall.
The risks to coastal states include:
• Shoreline erosion and degradation. Rising sea levels allow waves to penetrate further inland, even during calm conditions, increasing the potential for erosion.
• Amplified storm surges. Coastal storms often cause storm surges, which occur when high winds push water inland. With rising seas, storm surges occur on top of an elevated water level, and reach farther inland with potentially catastrophic damage to homes and infrastructure.
• Permanent inundation. Many low-lying coastal land areas are expected to be gradually submerged by rising sea levels.
• Saltwater intrusion. Saltwater can reach further into coastal groundwater sources as sea level rises, increasing the salinity of freshwater used for drinking and agriculture.
Global warming is a reality. Therefore the nation should be proactive in her response to the phenomenon and its challenges and should not wait until much damage is done which will be very costly to correct. Developing nations like Nigeria should not fold their arms and wait for international donor agencies and research Institutes to provide wholesale solutions to her global warming issues. The country must take up the challenge and seek cooperation and collaboration with International agencies in other to create opportunities for technology transfer. There are a number of adaptation and mitigation options that the country can embark upon using the existing government institutions, which do not require any elaborate capital outlay.
In conclusion, climate change is already moving against humanity and we all need to move against its effects. To this end, members of the civilized world are already moving against the menace and Nigeria should not allow herself to be left behind. Yes, we should move with the times by going along with the world in the fight against this global challenge that is threatening to tear us apart. Nigeria should brace up for a long marathon, and our time starts now!
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