Featured - Opinion - September 22, 2018

Op-ed: Climate change and its dreadful consequences for Nigeria, By Abdullahi Tsanni

Climate Change is undeniable, the science is beyond doubt; it is time to get off the path of suicidal emissions. All of us – governments, businesses, and citizens – will have to make amends. In other terms, we will have to be the change we desire. 

Flood is one of the consequences of climate migration
Flood is one of the consequences of climate change and migration

This is mandatory for the sake of today`s and future generations; it is the path we must tread, says, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. It is impossible to deny the terrible impacts of climate change on our planet, and, we, humans hold the keys to its salvation.

For millions of years, our planet, earth, has been warming and cooling. More than ever before and across the globe, temperatures are now rising at a fast rate, enough to cause alternations in weather and climatic conditions. Global warming happens  when air pollutants and greenhouse gases – carbon (IV) oxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbon – accumulate in the atmosphere for many years and absorb infrared radiations and sunlight which cause the planet to get hotter.

Science strongly agrees that, the earth`s rising temperatures due to weather alternations are fueling intensive heat waves, extreme drought, and heavy rainfalls leading to floods, which has negative consequences on agricultural prdouction and food security. In Nigeria, the frightening consequences of climate change are glaring, these includes; floods caused by heavy rainfalls and consequently famine and food insecurity.


Heavy rainstorms and floods in Nigeria

A timeline of heavy rainstorms and flooding has been recorded in Nigeria. Very recently, Nigeria experienced its worst flood disaster since 2012. The devastating flood caused by heavy rainfalls ravaged about 27 states in different parts of the country. In 2018 alone, 141 lives were lost; 19, 869 persons got displaced and 5, 732 houses were destroyed by heavy rainfalls.

The Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMET) and related agencies had before now released reports which warned against the impending flood disasters in many parts of the country. For example, in May, 2018, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency in its Annual Flood Outlooks projected high risks of flooding in many parts of the country, attributed to tidal surge and a rise in sea levels during the raining season.

Furthermore, in an article published July 2018, the Nigerian daily, Vanguard newspaper quoted the head of NIMET, Sani Mashi, saying “many parts of the country were likely to experience floods due to a shift in rainfall patterns caused by climate change.” He warned that alternations in the rainfall patterns caused by climate change will lead to flood. Despite the warnings, partial or no precautionary measures were taken by the government to mitigate the catastrophe.

According to a 2012 report by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), 363 people were killed by heavy rainstorms and flood; 2.1 million people were displaced in 30 states of the country with humongous economic losses worth 2.5 trillion naira. The reoccurring flood incidents in Nigeria are majorly attributed to very heavy local rainfalls caused by global climate change and compounded by the release of excess water from dams as well as poor urban planning and drainage systems.


Food insecurity abounds

Limited agricultural land, floods and harsh weather conditions are some of the major challenges around agricultural production today. Crops are sensitive to climate change – increase in temperatures, rising atmospheric carbon (IV) oxide, severe floods and drought. There is a growing pool of scientific-evidence on the negative impacts of climate change on agricultural production, globally.

A research paper published in the Journal Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences show that, for each degree-Celsius rise in global temperature, the yield of staple food crops – wheat, rice, maize and soybean would on average decrease by 6.0 per cent, 3.7 per cent, 7.4 per cent, and 3.1 per cent, respectively. It further predicted, that, for every degree rise in temperature the losses will increase by 10-25 per cent.

A separate research by a group of scientists published August, 2018 in the Journal of Science reveals that pests would become ravenous and their population will increase due to climate change. An increase in temperature will accelerate metabolism in insects – the rate at which they digest what they eat, and cause more damage to plants.

In Nigeria, climate change is the key determinant in the choice of grains planted by farmers, water shortages negatively affect yields and heavy rainfalls destroy farmlands. Therefore, farmers have to adapt to varying weather patterns and climate change by selecting viable and resistant crops to plant during farming sessions.

Severe and unpredictable floods and drought, persistent farmers-herders crises, desert encroachment, food and water shortages, are the undeniable consequences of climate change in Nigeria. As climate change takes the center stage, Nigeria must deeply cut-down greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.

Agricultural innovations such as biotechnology should be employed to develop climate-smart crops that can withstand the harsh weather conditions. Using a technology-driven approach, the search for alternative and renewable energy sources must be intensified to generate smart electricity and to preserve the ecology of our planet.

Abdullahi Tsanni is a biochemist, essayist and a freelance science Journalist, based in Abuja Nigeria. His interests includes; agricultural research for development (AR4D), climate change and sustainable development goals (SDGs). You can follow him on twitter @abdultsanni. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect African Newspage’s editorial policy

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