By Kamaluddeen Isa El-Kalash
It is an open secret that globally, the human species have continued to struggle towards enhancing their living conditions. But, on the other side of the coin, such struggles have unintentionally been creating an imbalance in nature – resulting in the problem of ‘climate change’. Climate change is a broad term used to refer to those changes in the Earth’s climates, at local, regional, or global scales; and the consequences of those changes to mother earth. According to Amnesty International (2022), climate change involves not only rising temperatures, but also extreme weather events, rising sea levels, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, and a range of other impacts. The change has continued to damage the environment for us all. The damage is very enormous and has continued to be on the rise, especially in developing nations. Those changes in the earth’s climate are primarily driven by human activity i.e. the burning of fossil fuels like natural gas, oil, and coal that releases what is called greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere; and the removal of forests and other anthropogenic emissions of sulphur dioxide that are a result of human activity. These gases trap heat from the sun’s rays inside the atmosphere causing earth’s average temperature to rise.
This rise in the planet’s temperature is called global warming. The warming of the planet impacts local and regional climates. Throughout Earth’s history, climate has continually changed. It occurs naturally through a gradual process that has kept on evolving over hundreds and thousands of years. However, the human -influenced climate change that we are experiencing at present is occuring at a much faster rate. The climate of an area includes seasonal temperature, rainfall averages, and wind patterns.
Climate change is one of the biggest threats that face the 21st century industrial age. For instance, the damage has continued to pollute the air we breathe, our seas and oceans have continued to heap up and our forests have continued to get depleted; thereby destroying the local biodiversity. The results of all these among others are serious threats that have gradually been leading us to experience negative consequences like weak soils and drought; all leading us to experience critical shortages in food production among others. The reasons are that we are using energy sources that are finite and are breaking down our ecological balance.
Narrowing the climate issue down to the Nigerian scene, the country like its other West African counterparts is characterised by strong latitudinal zones, becoming progressively drier as one moves North from the coast with rainfall as the key climatic variable that alternates between wet and dry seasons in most areas. However, the country’s climate has gradually been changing to the detriment of the unborn generation. The change is evident in the increase in temperature; variable rainfall; rise in sea level and flooding; drought and desertification; land degradation; more frequent extreme weather events; affected freshwater resources and loss of biodiversity (Amnesty International, 2022).
The above can be seen from the durations and intensities of rainfall that have increased, thereby, producing large runoffs and flooding in many states of the federation and despite the current experience, rainfall variation is projected to continue to increase. More so, the downpour in southern areas is expected to rise, which would most likely lead to massive flooding and submersion of the coastal lands. In the Northern part of the country, the decline in rainfall would lead to a rise in temperature; while Lake Chad and other lakes in the country would continue to dry up and possibly disappear so long as adequate measures are not taken to nip the problem in the bud. With the drying up of the lakes, desertification is certainly going to advance rapidly.
Again, incidences of malaria and other diseases would continue to escalate, especially in areas with higher temperatures that range between 18-32C and humidity above 60 per cent while hotter and drier conditions would likely exacerbate floods, droughts and heat waves and hamper agricultural production, particularly rain-fed agriculture, which many Nigerians rely on for their livelihoods.
Another great consequence that climate change has caused is that of conflict, leading to insecurity. For instance, the herdsmen-farmers’ conflicts in Nigeria are climate-induced conflicts and have been exacerbating the frail security situation, especially in the northern part of the country. The International Crisis Group once published that though the conflict between Nigerian herdsmen and farmers dates back decades, the problem has continued to escalate in recent years as climate change is driving herders south into Nigeria’s central farmland. The root of the conflict lies in the forced southern migration, owing to drought, of herdsmen from their traditional grazing grounds, mostly in the North East of Nigeria. The pastoralists struggle to search for water holes and grasslands for their cattle. This is evident in the constant duel between the Fulani herdsmen and Bachama farmers who compete over scarce fertile land. Sadly, the imbroglio between the two groups has created an opening for militant groups to have a stronghold in areas around the Lake Chad Basin, thereby endangering our collective well-being as a nation.
The above critical issues require bold steps to save our lives. Although President Muhammadu Buhari’s seven-point agenda highlights some commitment to bold actions towards the Paris Agreement goals of December 2015, putting policy into action is more critically desired than ever before. Hence, care plans have to be taken to enhance our living conditions and for the sustainability of our unborn children. In other words, proactive measures are needed to be taken to enable us to have a clean, green, healthy, safe and more resilient society that would be of immeasurable value to the present generation and the generation yet to arrive.
Kamaluddeen Isa El-Kalash wrote in from Kontagora and can be reached at: email@example.com