Climate change is a major problem caused by human activities or human mismanagement of the environment, resulting in several direct and indirect impacts on man’s health and the planet. These man-induced changes have wide-range harmful effects, including, increase in heat-related mortality, dehydration, the spread of infectious diseases, malnutrition, damages to public infrastructure, forced migration of both man and animals due to unmitigated disasters, and many more. Section one gives a brief description of the subject matter, section two talk about what climate change is, section three explained and dispel common misconceptions and notions about what climate change is, while section four gave an insight on the Nigeria experience with disasters as a result of Climate change and lastly section five gave an overview of what anyone, anywhere can do In their own little way to help in the fight against climate change.
The history of Man and his environment has been one of the most study areas in human history. The fact is simple, man depends on his environment for daily living and sustenance, such that man life’s as we know it, is shaped by his environment. Due to this, it important for Man to protect the environment from all forms of degradation, especially those brought about by the actions and activities of Man.
Knowing the importance and irreplaceability of the environment for Man’s survival, environmentalists and scientists have been warning for years about how humans activities are damaging the environment, arguing that without the environment; Man cannot exist since all human activities are made possible by the existence of a stable environment. In today’s world, environmental issues are now receiving global attentions, with countries of the world making pledges and efforts towards ensuring that a planet is a place for human habitation. It must be noted, that one of the most important landmark agreements on Climate change was the signing of the September 3rd 2015 Paris climate change accord by Nations of the world. This accord was also signed by two of the biggest world carbon emitters; the United States of America and the people’s republic of china, they both agreed to cut carbon emissions by half within the next fifteen years. This agreement is significant because the USA and China account for about 40% of the global carbon emissions.
What is Climate Change
Before I dive into telling you about why we should care about Climate Change is, I like to introduce you or refresh your minds to what Climate change is all about its effects, and when it started.
NASA’s definition of climate change is somehow complex! It defined it as “a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuel, which add heat-trapping gases to earth atmosphere. These phenomena include the increased temperature trends described as global warming, but also encompass changes such as sea-level rise, ice mass loss in Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic, and mountain glaciers worldwide; also the shifts in flower and plant blooming and extreme weather events”. To simplify it, YouMatter described Climate change as a global phenomenon of climate transformation, characterized by the changes in the usual climate condition of the planet (regarding temperature, precipitation, and wind) that are caused by human activities.
I believe we already know that Climate is the atmospheric condition of a place over a long period of time. Hence Climate changes are the manners in which the weather of Earth has become unbalanced over time, threatening the ecosystems as well as the future of humanity. It must be noted, however, that these changes could be natural or man-induced changes.
Climate change has become a global concern over the last few decades, why is that? Because Climate change affects life on Earth in it entirety and these changes on the ecosystems are mostly negative, ranging from extinction of plants and animals to usual amounts of rainfall depending on the area. This has led leading environmental scientists around the world to predict more natural and man-made disasters if we humans don’t curb the rate of human-induced actions that caused Climate change. The question people tend to ask is that, when did climate change start? However, that is the wrong question to ask. The question should have been, when did we starting noticing or focusing on climate change.
The Climate started changing a long time ago due mainly to human activities like gas flaring, bad waste management, oil spillage, deforestation and so many more. In fact, there has been warning about it effects since 1824, especially by scientist Jacques Founder whose work proved the assumptions about the greenhouse effects. His work was soon built upon and proved to be correct by several scientists like Claude Pouillet, John Tyndall, and Svante Arrhenius. It was, Arrhenius who conducted the first experiment that accurately validated and quantified the greenhouse effects; at the end of the 19th century when he discovered that air rich in carbon dioxide retains more heat from solar radiation leading to an increase in air temperature. However, for decades, these discoveries were not taken seriously in the scientific community and at the political level. But as the impact of climate change has risen in the last century, experts, scientists, and countries of the world under the UN banner started talking about Climate change and its many effects on Man and his environment. Research and studies on climate change confirm that the earth’s temperature is rising due to a phenomenon called the “greenhouse effect”; causing the rising temperature of the Earth surface to deplete the Ozone layer, hereby affecting agriculture, water supply, transportation, and several other problems facing mankind right now.
When scientists talk about Climate change and global warming, we often think about it as a future problem but in reality, climate change is happening right now and already wreaking havoc’s around the world with devastating effects. According to the world meteorological Organization (WMO), extreme weather events caused by climate change were responsible for 370,000 deaths, including 136,000 deaths from heat waves between 2001 and 2010, which is 20% higher than the previous decade. The extreme weather events are also responsible for an estimated 660 billion dollars of economic damages to the world economy.
Myth and Reality: what we should know about Climate change
When we talk about climate change, people often talked about the increases in Earth’s temperature linked to industrial activities and in particular, the greenhouse effect. However, a lot of people around the world sometimes confuse Climate change with “global warning” this term can be misleading! This is due to the fact that global warming is just one aspect of climate change, climate change encompass all changes in the earth whether Man-made or natural.
The Reality About Climate Change
Climate change is not just a new topic for scientific debate, it is a genuine issue back by sound scientific measurements and undeniable evidence. Below are some of the facts about Climate change.
Carbon dioxide Co2 :- In 2017, Co2 in the global atmosphere hit 405 ppm (parts per million), A record time high. Currently, Carbon dioxide is at it highest level of concentration in the earth’s atmosphere, and its problem, because greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are the number one contributor to climate change.
This is how it works. When the earth is warmed by the sun, land and ocean surface continuously radiate heat, greenhouse gases like Co2, methane, etc. Absorb the heat and release it gradually over time, like a “frying pan emitting heat after you turn off the gas”. It must be noted that, at normal levels, this greenhouse effect is a good and natural process, because, without it, the planet would be cold to support Life. However, the rapid increase in Co2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere due to man activities has upset the balance, trapping too much heat and causing global temperature to spikes with attendance consequences.
Myths About Climate Change
Just like there are truth and facts about Climate change, there also exist numerous claims against the existence of climate change, hence this section would try to list some of the common myths and errors about what causes Climate change, so you the reader know the facts from the fictions, tell the truth from lies.
Myth 1. The Earth Climate had always changed
Yes, the Earth Climate has always been changing over its 4.5 billion years plus history, this is absolutely correct. However, the increased warning we are experiencing now cannot be explained by natural cycles of warming and cooling. The kind of changes that would normally happen over hundreds of thousands of years is happening in decades.
N.B Global temperature is now at its highest since record-keeping began. In fact, according to the WMO, 17 of the 18 warmest years on record have all taken place since 2001. Sadly, the increased pace of warning corresponds with the level of carbon dioxide Co2 in the atmosphere, which has been increasing since the industrial revolution.
So when climate change is mentioned today, it means Man induced changes to the climate. It means increases in the earth’s average temperature as a result of human activities, such as coal mining, oil spillage, gas flaring, deforestation, and other dirty energy sources.
Myth 2. Plants need carbon dioxide (Co2)
This is also a hundred percent correct! Plants and vegetation do need carbon dioxide to survive. It is also true that plants and forests do regularly absorb and store away a huge amount of Carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere every year.
The problem, however, is that plants and forests can only absorb limited Co2 and this amount is getting slowly, as large-scale cutting of trees across the world has depleted the forest reserves, thereby limiting their capacity to absorb the Co2.
To be frank, Co2 itself cannot cause a problem as it is part of the natural global ecosystem. The problem is the quantity of the Co2 that being produced by humans and which are left hanging in the atmosphere due to the lack of trees to absorb them. The general consensus among climate scientists is that carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere has never reached this magnitude for about 800,000 years.
Myth 3. Global warming isn’t really as it is still cold and things still feel the same
Global warming is accelerating the earth’s average temperature to shoot upward. This increase can be seen in the record-high number of heatwaves, droughts, etc. But it is also affecting the natural ecosystem. With this development, extreme weather events are becoming intense, leaving destructions and deaths on its paths. Hence, it depends on where you are right now to decide whether it still cold or not, or whether things are still the same. One thing that is sure is that the climate crisis is coming. E g Nigeria is already experienced abnormal flooding that has devastated cities and communities at a level and magnitude never seen before.
Myth 4. Climate change is a future problem.
This is perhaps the greatest misconception about Climate change. Why is that so? Climate skeptics have labeled climate change as a future problem and tends to think we should focus our attention on pressing immediate issues such as poverty, conflicts, etc. Climate change is a problem to be solved by future generations.
However, all over the world, we`re already seeing the devastating effects of climate change on global food supply, increasing migration, conflicts, diseases, and global instability and this has been predicted to get worse if we don’t act now. In fact, in 2019, the world-leading climate scientists warned that we only have 12 years to limit the level of global warming to a maximum of 1.5c to avoid climate breakdown.
Man-induced climate change is the biggest factor in the environmental degradation of our time. If not check, it will negatively affect the collective future of humanity and the planet, we all depend on the planet for survival. Hence if we don’t tackle the situation now, there might not be a future generation to solve it.
Myths 5. Getting rid of humans is the only way of fixing the climate change problem.
This might look absurd at first, like who the hell will suggest this kind of advice in the first place! However some eco-terrorists and hardliners environmentalists have advocated for this option. To them, humans are the biggest driver of climate change and responsible for destroying the fragile ecosystem, hence it is only plausible to want to remove the source of the problem.
However, this approach is wrong. Humans have this unique ability to change if given the opportunity. Hence what is now needed most is for political and business leaders to take bold and urgent steps towards finding lasting solutions to address the climate crisis and restore nature.
Climate Change or Climate Crisis: The Nigeria Experience
Nigeria, officially known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria is situated in the West Africa region, Nicknamed the “GIANT of Africa”. Nigeria is the seventh-most populous country and most populous black nation in the world with over 200 million people and home to hundreds of different ethnicities, languages, and animal species.
Nigeria’s climate condition is tropical in nature with variation in rainy and dry seasons depending on the part of the country. It is hot and wet most of the year in the southeast but dries in the southwest and even drier farther inland. A savannah climate with marked wet and dry seasons prevails in the northern and western parts of the country, while a steppe climate with little precipitation is found in the far north. Under normal conditions, the length of the rainy season decreases from south to north. In the south, the rainy season lasts from March to November, whereas in the far north, it lasts only from mid-May to September. A marked interruption in the rainy period occurs during August in the south, resulting in a short dry season generally refers to by locals, as the “August Break.” According to Wikipedia, Precipitation is heavier in the south, especially in the southeast, which receives more than 120 inches (3,000mm) of rain a year, compared to the 70 inches (1,800mm) received in the southwest.
Temperature and humidity remain relatively constant throughout the year in the south, though this has changed considerably abnormal over the years due to increased exploitation of the areas. The Nigeria area boasts of several valuable economic trees, fauna and flora, and diverse species of animal life. But sadly over the years, this beautiful environment has been degraded through human activities, like poaching, bush burning, deforestation, increased desertification, oil spillages in the Niger-Deltas, insurgency, etc. As a child, I love playing in the forest at the back of my village, but sadly, this forest has largely disappeared due to indiscriminate cutting of trees, deforestation, and desertification. I found it hard to believe, that the once flourishing vegetation has disappeared.
In Nigeria, climate change has been evident in increased temperature, more frequent extreme weather events, rise in sea levels and flooding; drought and desertification; land degradation; affected freshwater resources, and loss of biodiversity. The duration and intensities of rainfall have increased, producing large runoffs and flooding in various places in Nigeria. Rainfall variation is projected to continue to increase. Precipitation in southern Nigeria is expected to rise and rising sea levels are expected to exacerbate flooding and submersion of coastal lands, droughts have become constant in Nigeria, especially the northern part of the country and are expected to continue, the most glaring example, is the gradual disappearance of the lake chad basin and other lakes across the country.
The Lake Chad, four decades ago covered an area of over 40,000 square kilometers, unfortunately, today, it barely covers a mere 1,300 square kilometers. This negative trend has continued over the years, with once fertile land turning to wasteland due to the fast southward expansion of the Sahara desert. Towns and surrounding villages became barren, swallow up by advancing desertification, which has led to a mass exodus of people in search of more fertile terrain from the northeast towards the greener plateau and middle belt regions. The resulting dry land has forced Fulani herdsmen to move to the south and middle-belt in search of pastures and waters for their Cattles. The movement of herdsmen to the south has been linked to the various clashes with local’s farmers resulting in the death of hundreds, According to the reports of residents and activists.
Nigeria Guinea savannah region is not spared either, wood logging and over-dependence on firewood for cooking has stripped a greater part of this area of its vegetation cover. The situation is similarly replicated in the southern part of the country, as the once evergreen forest that covers the Yoruba-speaking state of Oyo state has been reduced to grassland. The south-eastern part of the country is no different, as poor land management as led to huge gully erosion, which has devastated vast settlements and farmlands, leading to poverty among the local population. With the encroaching deserts, destroying large swathes of land in the north, rising sea levels are also threatening Nigeria riverine areas. Though it holds large oil reserves, the Niger-Delta low-lying terrain and numerous creeks make it extremely vulnerable to flooding, apart from the danger of a rise in sea levels, it has been the victim of numerous oil spillage and pollution which has greatly damaged the environment.
Still, in southern Nigeria, climate change effects have been reflected in the massive flood experienced in 2012, houses, farms, farm products, properties worth millions, and even human beings were swept away. The national emergency management agency (NEMA) released disturbing results some time ago, which shown, that no fewer than 5000 persons were affected and more than 60 houses destroyed in a windstorm that occurred in four states in the south-west region. The simple truth is that all these disasters are simply due to human negligence and a failure to tackle the issue of climate change by successive Nigerian governments. Against this background, it is necessary, that preventive action is needed to be taken with good policy to support the efforts because, without a change of attitude to the environment, the results could be catastrophic.
Lazy Man Guide to Stop Climate Change
No doubt, the need to preserve, protect and promote the environment constitutes a headache to many nations and dominates discussions and activities of government, civil society, and NGOs around the globe. This is because we all depend on the environment, And the economic planning and nature of the future are depending on the environment, and this fact makes it more needful for a healthy and functional plan to protect the environment.
One of the reasons why people don’t care about climate change both at the local and national level is due to a lot of factors. Some feel it is inevitable and that we are all doom to stop it, while other people think that the little steps they take in their little ways won’t amount or solve anything. However, there are numerous ways everyone can participate in making the world a better place and stop the climate change effects.
Below are some of the ways and manners in which everyone on the planet can help in the fight against climate. This list is copied from the global goal website of the United Nations.
- Speak up:- the single biggest way to stop climate change is to talk about it, raise awareness on the topic. Talk to your family, friends, and acquaintances about climate change. Voice your concerns and engage with your elected officials to take the right steps and lobby for environmental-friendly policies.
- Reduce water waste:- saving water reduces carbon pollution because it takes a lot of energy to pump, heat, and treat water.
- Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle:- adopt environmental friendly cars, like hybrids and fully electric vehicle to save fuel and energy
- Walk more, if possible ride a bicycle, it is good for the environment.
- Power your home with renewable energy like solar energy and windmills
- Adopt paper bags for your groceries instead of plastic or nylon bags
Climate change is the most challenging problem of our generation; we have been experienced its devastating effects and probably, this generation of ours might the last chance to stop it from going any further and save mother earth. Living in a bubble of denial can only lead to more disasters, the planet is our only home, and sadly, it is already witnessing melting glaciers, raising floods, extinction of plant and animal species, depletion of coral reefs under the rivers and the oceans, the lists are endless. Thus, the time to act is now, time to conserve and preserve our planet, as it is the only one we’ve got.
Writer Ibitomi Ibiwumi Otunola An undergraduate student of History and Diplomatic Studies, University of Abuja
Retrieved from Wikipedia://what is Climate Change
www.britannica.com//Climate Change/definition, causes, effects &facts.
www.takepart.com//what-is-climate-change. Retrieved online
Climate.Nasa.com: effects and facts about climate change; vitals signs of the planet.
Blogs:ei.columbia.edu: 10 climate change impacts that will affect us all-state of the planet.
Felix okoro-jarn: Climate change in Nigeria. Unpublished material
IBJTOMI IBIWUMI OTUNOLA: Understanding the GlobalGoals and it implications for the Nigeria rural communities: unpublished blog material