The effect of global warming on Nigeria’s climate has led to increasing incidences of flooding, droughts, and other climate disasters as per some experts. With its rapidly growing population and an economy heavily dependent on oil, Nigeria is Africa’s second-largest carbon emitter. Thankfully, as part of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Nigerian government has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2030. To help the country recover from the pandemic, it wants to generate 30% of its energy from renewable sources.
This policy, however, has not received much support due to the rising foreign exchange rate, increased operational challenges, and disruptions in the materials supply chains created by COVID-19. As a result, it has become vital to examine the country’s 2017 national climate strategy, its new economic recovery plan, and, in particular, the government’s commitment to handling the country’s mounting climate problems by rapidly expanding solar power.
Explaining the Global Warming Phenomenon
Global warming is the steady heating of the earth’s surface, oceans, and atmosphere. It is the increase in global average temperatures brought on by a variety of human activities. Because it disrupts the earth’s general ecology, global warming or climate change poses a hazard to human life on the planet. This is owing to greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which account for 82 percent of the gases in our atmosphere that trap heat, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Examples of greenhouse gases include methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and chlorofluorocarbons.
One major cause of global warming is cutting down forests (deforestation). Trees help regulate the climate by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This beneficial effect is lost when they are cut down and the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere. Another cause is the increase in livestock farming, resulting in the large amounts of methane (a greenhouse gas) to be released by cows and sheep when they digest their food. As these gases build up in the atmosphere the earth gets hotter leading to a rapid change in global warming.
Source: Global temperature record – updated January 2021
An introduction to Nigeria’s Climate Profile
With nearly 211 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Nigeria is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of Guinea to the south, and spans 923,769 square kilometers (356,669 square mile). Niger, Cameroon, and Benin all share land borders with it.
Nigeria has a wide range of weather conditions. The country has a mean annual temperature of 26.9°C, with average monthly temperatures ranging from 24°C (December, January) to 30°C (April). In Nigeria, rainfall occurs throughout the year, with the heaviest rainfall happening from April to October and the minimal rainfall occurring from November to March.
A tropical monsoon climate prevails in the south, a tropical savannah climate dominates in most of the central regions, and a Sahelian hot and semi-arid climate occurs in the north.
Source: World Bank
Impact of Global Warming on Nigeria’s Climate
Temperature rises, unpredictable rainfall, rising sea levels, flooding, drought, desertification, land degradation, more frequent extreme weather events, impacted freshwater resources, and biodiversity loss are all indications that Nigeria’s climate is changing. Rainfall duration and intensity have increased, resulting in huge runoffs and flooding in several parts of Nigeria.
According to a survey, rainfall variation is projected to increase (Akande et al., 2017; Ebele and Emodi, 2016). In southern areas, rainfall is predicted to increase, and rising sea levels will worsen flooding and coastal land submersion. According to Dioha and Emodi’s investigations, Lake Chad and other lakes in the country are likewise drying up and evaporating (2018).
As a result, global warming may present a severe threat to Nigeria’s food security status. Higher temperatures, reduced rainfall, droughts, and deserts reduce farmland, lower agricultural productivity, and affect crop yields in Nigeria, where agriculture is the chief occupation and source of income for almost 70% of the population (Ogbuabor and Egwuchukwu, 2017).
Malnutrition caused by food shortages, the spread of infectious diseases, increased air pollution, and higher temperatures linked to an increase in cases of meningitis are some of the health implications associated with the threat of food security in Nigeria.
Considering the significance of the agricultural sector to livelihoods and the economy, crop yield and productivity issues could have a negative impact on the country’s GDP. It is also likely to have a severe influence on Nigeria’s already constrained electrical power supply by affecting hydroelectric and thermal generation.
Communities suffer and face a surge in death rates as climate change becomes more frequent and intense. Experts concluded that if fossil fuels are burned continuously, the pace of loss could accelerate.
The Way Forward?
In light of this, the framework report for Nigeria’s National Adaptation Plan on Climate Change, which was produced in 2020, must be implemented in order to properly prepare for climate disasters caused by global warming. The Nigerian government should also invest more urgently in programs that safeguard homes from floods and fires, as well as programs that assist people to cope with heat stress (especially older individuals and those living in poverty).
Nigeria has to focus more on making its forests and farmlands more drought-resistant, as well as preparing its coasts for flooding. Furthermore, government incentives to academic institutions and manufacturing enterprises should be used to support the development and usage of fuel-efficient cars and other technologies to prevent energy waste.
These mitigation and adaptation strategies will aid in improving air quality and lowering greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Like most countries of the world, global warming in Nigeria is a crisis that can only be overcome by a concerted, proactive effort.
Written by Felicia Idajili