One of the most urgent international problems of the second Millennium is the changing climate of the universe. Unfortunately, a lot of countries are already living with the results of this global problem. Nigerians are among those who have been unlucky enough to experience it. So, how has the climate change globally, and particularly in Nigeria? What are the main reasons? How do we go through this and survive? There are so many difficult questions on this issue and in this article, we will try to find the answers.
Not so long ago, at the end of the 20th century, some scientists generated certain hypotheses and theories about an upcoming climate change. In reality, this was not how things turned out. The thorough analysis of the growing number of natural disasters, extreme weather phenomena all over the world and the space and geophysical parameters of recent years illustrated a disturbing tendency to their significant increase in short time. In other words, it proved that assumptions of gradual climatic changing are not right due to all these unexpected conditions. In fact, it is much more dynamic that it may seem.
To date, however, there is a sufficient number of well-known and little-known facts available to the global public that indicate various metamorphoses on the planet. There are variations in the Earth’s magnetic field, ground-level temperature growth, melting permafrost, ocean- and sea-level rise, the appearance of perilous hydrometeorological phenomena (like floods, droughts, typhoons), etc. Nigeria, in particular, has dealt with the last issue mentioned above, adding climate challenges to many of its other urgent problems.
Natural causes of climate change
When it comes to the issue of climatic change, it is logical to explain the natural reasons and humans’ influence on it. Let’s have a look at the causes that are entirely beyond human control. Climatic alternations are often as a result of atmosphere changes and the processes taking place in different spots of the Earth (oceans, glaciers). No doubts, the outer processes influence climate, particularly:
- change of size, topography, and mutual location of the oceans and continents;
- sunlight changes;
- the Earth’s orbit and axis parameters change;
- atmospheric transmission coefficient change;
- greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere change (CO2 and CH4);
- the Earth’s surface reflectance changing (albedo);
- changes of heat available in the deep ocean, etc.
Human causes of climate change
The processes and essential traits of the atmosphere are usually adaptable under the influence of people’s activity. The large-scale anthropogenic alternations on the Earth’s surface (deforestation, desertification, degradation of the seas, oceans, etc.) has led to a change in the characteristics of the energy and water atmosphere pattern.
The local changes of the geosystems are due to the appearance and development of cities, irrigational and other agricultural systems, anthropogenic pastures transformations, and water storage occurrences, etc. Together with changes of physical peculiarities of the atmosphere, anthropogenic transformations of the gaseous constituents take place. In combination, these two aspects cause serious geo-ecological challenges. They include:
- anthropogenic climate alteration and its consequences;
- the breach of the natural state of the ozone layer;
- environmental acidification, including acid deposition;
- local air pollution.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is excessive because of combustion of fossil fuels too. And, evidently, it is a major anthropogenic factor among the others.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere acts as a powerful absorber of terrestrial radiation that alternatively would dissipate in outer space. Absorbing and sharing the energy of such radiation, CO2 makes the atmosphere warmer. As we know, since the end of the 19th century the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased in parallel with the growth of the industry.
Scientists theorise that the climate may be affected by chlorofluorohydrocarbons. These chemical compounds are widely used nowadays for different aerosols generation. They destroy the ozone layer in the stratosphere and consume the infrared radiation. The latter contributes to the atmosphere warming up.
Causes of climate change in Nigeria
Speaking about the pressing climatic issues in Nigeria, we can state that the main reason for climate change is anthropogenic. Reckless human activity served as the catalyst to the emergence of the current situation. Regarding natural reasons, it is evident that it is the fundamental source of our problems. Speaking metaphorically, it is man who pulled the trigger and put a bullet to the forehead. Forests are cut, the Sahara makes slow steps towards advancement, inadequate irrigation of lands, unqualified husbandry, etc. All these aspects are gradually changing the climate and make the life of every person hard.
Effects of climate change in Nigeria
Though the climate change is a global issue, Nigeria is one of the countries that have been negatively and strongly affected by it. It is determined by a set of factors: location of the country, the number of people, poorly irrigated agriculture territory, variable climatic zones, etc.
We may presume that climate changing influence on Nigerian society and economy will be drastic and profound. Perspectives of exhausting droughts, desert advancing, severe flooding, catastrophic soil erosion, and terrible hurricane do not sound good and this makes us consider and find solutions.
Other probable consequences of the global warming in Nigeria is the change in precipitation that in turn influences food production and worsen the soil problems and coastal erosion. Results of such severe changes are tough and inevitably cause massive migration. It means that it might end up causing conflicts and civil unrest.
The main environmental problem in this country is the lack of water resources and provisions. So, how is this connected to climate change? Well, it is the most destructive cause of climatic changing because in the context of heat people will primarily need clean drinking water and food.
Another pressing issue is deforestation. Concerns over massive deforestation of plantations include the loss of valuable forests which protect fragile soils. Also, they include loss of habitats for wildlife and, consequently, reduced biodiversity. It ‘gives birth’ to other serious challenges like desert advancing and lack of pastures.
Insufficient quantities of meadows for herds has become a real problem for many people too. Militant northerners attack and capture the lands of the south and east to meet their needs. Poor rural inhabitants cannot confront them and they end up suffering immensely. A lot of people were killed in such conflicts. The local press was just flooded with articles about murders and abductions, and the main reason was re-allotment of lands. The government is not doing much to stop such atrocities in the country.
Why did it happen? Well, extensive ranching requires vast areas which are in constant lack because agriculture takes up most of the available territories. It makes nomadic northerners act violently and grab them forcefully. Moreover, Nigerian system of agriculture is rather weak keeping in mind that investment in irrigation is insufficient, water resources are wasting away and polluting and the Sahara is advancing.
All these factors indicate that the cattle herders have fewer lands. At the same time, the agricultural sector supplies 80% of all necessary food products for the population of Nigeria. On the one hand, agriculture ‘feeds’ the people, on the other hand, ranchers are responsible for providing meat (a necessary protein) to the market. As result, a lot of people suffer from malnutrition and poverty. Therefore, one of the climate-changing consequences is now being evident. According to views of sociologists, unfortunately, such hostilities will not cease and more brutal ones could still take place.
Besides all the above mentioned climate-related effects, Nigeria faces abnormal weather and a massive natural disaster that hit in various regions of the country. The number of typhoons and tornadoes has increased.
Climate change and agriculture in Nigeria
It is heartbreaking to say that Africa and famine are ‘inseparable’ because weather conditions are rather harsh. But in the light of climate-related issues, they have become even more severe and unpredictable. Either floods or droughts can cause ‘gaps’ in agricultural productivity. The poor then have to go through more hardship.
According to statistical data, in the last decade, we have observed significant changes in unsustainable agricultural practices. For example, climate changes made farmers pick millet, maize, and bean in the 2000s, and in 1980s guinea corn, groundnut, and corn had been widely planted previously. It is evident that our contemporaries’ choice of grains depends on climate change and its influence on growing and ripening of plants.
For instance, the temperature increase causes excessive vaporization that, in turn, may lead to poor crops. The lack of water negatively affects the yield and animals as well. Everything is interconnected. If there is insufficient precipitation, the crop harvest is meager, that in turn leads to expensive cattle feed. Besides, high temperature has a negative impact on the health of the animals and their living conditions.
Changing and unstable precipitations (from the extensively wet periods to dry ones), certainly, make its own ‘contribution’ to Nigerian agriculture sector. That is why farmers have to adapt to weather and climate changes and to select only viable and resistant grains to plant.
Consequences of climate change
The implications of climate change are evident right now not only in Africa but also in many developing and low-developed countries too. It should be stated that the results of climatic alternations are ‘felt’ more sorely in third world countries where it is tough to implement climate change policy due to other urgent matters.
The climatic change leaves an imprint on everything and everybody. It amends and alternates living conditions of the population and forces them to adapt. It is a question of survival for human beings. Its consequences are quite drastic and frightening for Nigerians: scarce crops, probable famine, floods, civil unrest and hostilities, mass murders, destructions caused by typhoons and twisters, etc.
Summing up everything we have stated above, we can surely claim that countries and huge corporations have finally realized the acute necessity of financial contributions to renewable energy sources aimed at maintaining the ecology of the Earth and preventing climate change on the global level. Consequently, it is evident that solar energy will be taken more seriously into consideration along with actively developing electrical, hybrid, and hydrogen-powered vehicles. This concept of ‘smart electricity’ is intensively created and implemented in many countries all over the world now.
As for Nigeria, it should be emphasized that the industry must diminish greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for global warming. It is important to commence rendering information of ecology problems to the population. Only raising the awareness on the issue may be helpful in the current situation because the climatic changing has become a question of national security. However, it does not concern only Nigeria. It also concerns everybody on the planet. As it was discovered, climatic metamorphoses affect all the continents and basically every country.
We must understand that our future is in our hands!