CLIMATE change is a worldwide phenomenon but a second look at the topic suggests that Nigeria may be immune from it.
Impact as used may be negative or positive or a combination. A literal definition of climate states that it is the general weather conditions prevailing in an area such as Nigeria over a period of time.
In effect, climate change will mean a change in such weather condition for a particular location over time.
What therefore is climate change; can Nigeria be affected; what impact has it on Nigeria? How can we mitigate the negative impact and ensure that climate change/global warming does not have disastrous consequence on Nigeria?
Giving answers to these questions are at best guesstimate as no one can be definitive about them, but we still need to start thinking about them today to find answers to tomorrow’s challenges.
What then is climate change? This can be looked at as the continuing change of the earth’s climate, which, in time past, was seen to be caused by natural causes.
However, the term ‘climate change’ today is generally used when referring to the change in our climate which has been observed since the early part of the 20th century.
The changes which are seen over recent years and those which are predicted over the next century are thought to be mainly due to human behaviour rather than due to natural changes in the atmosphere.
What causes this change cannot be treated in isolation without looking at greenhouse effect which is caused by the release of destructive gases by human action which in turn brings about the warming of the earth surface by increase in the earth’s temperature.
The increase in temperature in turn causes the melting of ice which contributes to the rise in sea level among other disastrous consequences.
Arising from this, is the question: Can Nigeria be affected by the global climate change? In this regard an example may suffice.
The drought of the 1970s that swept most of the Sahel region of Africa left the region, including Nigeria, with general water resources issues. The consequence of that are the low agricultural output, limited water supply and inadequate water reserve for power generation which the region is associated with.
Again the increasing flooding in the coastal and non-coastal regions of the country is indicative of the expected effect of climate change.
There are two extremes of the expected challenges of the climate change in Nigeria,viz, increase in rainy and dry seasons with each lasting approximately six months on the average, that is, April to October and October to March, respectively.
Nigeria daily temperature average differs according to location and period of the year. Average temperature ranges from 25oC in the southern coast to 40oC in the north.
A rise in temperature of between 1.4oC to 5.8oC by 2100 according to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, will have serious negative effect on the socio-economic wellbeing of the country in the following ways: increase in amount of rains and number of rainy days
-flooding in the coastal areas, higher risk of 100years flooding occurring at shorter intervals;
*landslides especially in erosion prone areas;
*high temperature in the north will cause increase health issues such as meningitis, cataracts, malaria and yellow fever etc
*desertification will increase and more droughts which encourage locusts and white flies, which in turn will affect food and water supply;
*high cost of construction especially in the coastal areas;
*deforestation as a result of relocating of people from the flood affected areas of the coast;
*change in land use in the coast may have drastic effect on agricultural output and hence livelihood;
*wildlife will also be affected with possible effect on the entire food chain.
Dr. NGENE UCHE, a civil/sstructural engineer, wrote from Sapele Delta State.