Climate change is a major environmental problem facing the world today. Its negative impacts fall more on third world countries in the tropical region. In this post, we take a look at some of the major negative impacts of climate changes in Nigeria. Available reports indicate that some of these impacts include: temperature rise, reduction in rainfall, desert encroachment, coastal floods, drying up of surface waters especially in the northern ecological zones.
Climate change can be defined as a change in the climate that is characterized by variability of its properties, and that persists for decades or longer. These anomalies in the climate result from increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and other dangerous gases in earth’s atmosphere, which ultimately leads to warming.
Activities that contribute to accumulation of green house gases include gas flaring, bush burning, deforestation brought about by clearing of land for agricultural and industrial uses, burning of wood, etc.
The natural GHGs are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide; whereas, the man-made components of the GHGs include (sulfur hexane fluoride-(SF); hydro-fluorocarbons-(HFCs); and perfluorocarbons.
Both the natural and man-made components of the Green House Gases (GHGs) have been adjudged globally as the culprit for the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans.
Indeed, earth’s average temperature has risen between by about 1°C in the last 100 years. Furthermore, the increased volume of carbon dioxide and other GHGs released from the burning of fossil fuels (oils, natural gas and coal), deforestation, agriculture and other human activities are sources of the current global warming we are experiencing.
The impact of accumulation of GHGs on the earth’s environmental stability include unpredictable and irregular rainfall, gradual rise in temperature, disruption of sunshine distribution and hours, drying up of surface waters in the semi-arid and arid regions of the country, shifts in the vegetation belts; melting of polar ice-caps, rise in sea level that could lead to floods in coastal areas.
Climate change has brought about incessant floods in coastal areas across Nigeria, whereas the northern region is experiencing uncontrollable desertification and drought due to drastic decline in rainfall.
Therefore, the main effect of climate change is the warming (increased average temperature) which brings about a host of secondary effects. Some of the secondary effects caused by warming include, rise in sea level leading to coastal erosion and flooding, altered patterns of agricultural practices, and extreme weather events.
These secondary effects have affected Nigeria in varying degree of impacts in different regions.
Drought, floods, severe weather and other effects of climate change have begun to threaten communities in many parts of the country. Increased flooding from overflowing seas and rivers, threatens coastal areas, especially heavily populated regions in Niger Delta, and Lagos.
Sea level rise has already caused increased risk of flooding, displacement of people, coastal erosion and flooding in low-lying regions in Nigeria. These effects are threatening vital infrastructure, settlements and facilities that support the livelihood of affected communities.
Generally, Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to face climate change due to various existing stress and low adaptive capacity.
In the northern part of the country, other factors already threatening human health such as malaria may increase as altered weather conditions has been known to promote the proliferation of carrier agents.
The Niger Delta region is vulnerable to climate change due to its low-lying topography. Climate change in this region of the country has led to floods during the rainy season, scorching temperature and excessive heat in the dry season, change in rainfall pattern, and coastal erosion.
On several occasions, heavy rainfall in the region have forced rivers to overflow their banks and submerged hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland, destroyed buildings and blocked transportation routes in the region. This has affected social, as well as economic well-being of farmers in the region.
On agriculture in the region, climate change has brought about reduced yield due to its impacts on the farmers as well as the environment they dwell. Frequent natural disasters like ocean surges and floods has damaged sources of livelihood, caused harm to farmland, hurt post-harvest activities, destroyed life and property. Consequently, poverty level in the region has risen
Climate change has affected every region of the country but the degree and nature of impacts resulting from the phenomenon differs from region to region.
Desertification is the steady advancement of deserts into adjacent dry lands converting formerly productive pastures and crop lands into barren and sterile landscape. Some of the most significant environmental impacts of climate change in northern include drought, loss of vegetation cover and desertification.
Evidences show that the climate of semi-arid region of Nigeria is undergoing rapid changes. Due to global warming, the region is getting warmer and drier. The warming has been identified as a significant cause desert encroachment into Nigeria.
The immediate causes of desertification include climate change (rising temperatures and intense sunshine, decreasing amount of rainfall) and frequent droughts.
In addition, economic hardship and rapid population increases have led to deforestation for agricultural purposes and construction work. A major debilitating impact of desertification is the formation of sand dunes. The migrating sand dunes bury large expanse of arable land consequently reducing crop production.
States affected worst by desertification include Yobe, Borno, Kaduna, Katsina, Nassarawa, Jigawa, and Sokoto.
Desertification not only affects vegetation, but also animals and birds. Following the gross alteration of their habitat, some of the animals have migrated to other ecological zones, while majority have been vulnerable to hunters.
In order to adapt effectively to climate change in Nigeria, there is the need to:
Successful implementation of these measures will improve livelihood, food production, and quality of life of Nigerians across all ecological zones.
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