Why Nigeria Must Stay Below 1.5 Degrees Limit

Climate-Change-BOSDo you wonder why the popularly known August break is currently being experienced more in the month of July as against August? Or have you reasoned why excessive heat is prevalent in the country? Imagine these situations persist, what state do you think the country will be by 2030?
Without mincing words, the effects of climate change are gradually becoming significantly obvious with the deteriorating effect of extreme weather conditions like famine, flood, thunderstorms, windstorms, landslides and avalanches. Going by statistical data, the average air temperature in Nigeria between 1901 and 2005 was estimated to be 26.6oC while 1.1oC temperature increase was observed for the 105 years. This value is obviously higher than the global average temperature increase of 0.74oC recorded since 1860.
Within the 105 years interval, the amount of rainfall in Nigeria was recorded to have dropped by 81mm. Further studies showed that that as at 2005, the number of rain days has dropped by 53% in the north-eastern Nigeria and 14% in the Niger-Delta Coastal areas. If this trend continues, Nigeria average temperature increase might fall between the middle and high risk value by the year 2100.
Nigeria is blessed with many coastal settlements like the Forcados, Port Harcourt, Rivers, Calabar etc. These regions are vulnerable to the risk of ocean rise. The current global estimate of sea level rise which is 0.2m has swamped 3,400km2 of the coastal regions in the country. This sea level is projected to increase to 1m by the year 2100. If this happens, then 18,400km2 of the coastal region will be swamped. According to a study, a metre rise in sea level will displace about 14 million people from the coastal areas of Nigeria.
Unfortunately, many coastal regions are less than 10m above the sea level and would be devastatingly affected by a metre increase. Although by 2100, the difference between the 2 and 1.5 degree temperature rise might not be significant, it will be much substantial in centuries later. Michiel Schaeffer, of Climate Analytics, estimated that by 2300, two degrees would cause a level rise of 2.7 meters, while with 1.5 degrees, it would be limited to 1.5 meters.
Rivers especially in the northern part of the country have been reported to have dried up or significantly dependent on seasonal variations. A notable one is Lake Chad which had an area of 22,902km2 in 1963 and has shrunk to a meagre size of 1304 km2 in 2000, representing a 94 percent decrease in size.
The northern Nigeria is particularly under austere threat of desert encroachment. Sand dunes are now a common feature of desertification in states like Borno, Yobe, Sokoto, Katsina, and Jigawa. Migrating sand dunes have inundated large expanse of arable lands, reducing the amount of viable agricultural lands and has prompted immense emigration of people. Extreme weather events like flood, rainstorms, windstorms, and thunderstorms are occurring more regularly. The frequency and magnitude of wind and rainstorms has not only increased, they are reported to have killed over 190 people and destroyed property worth N85.03 billion in Nigeria between 1992 and 2007.
Come to think of it, with the climate change threats currently experienced in the country, staying below 1.5 degree is not just a constraint, it is an amiable pedestal for smooth transitioning into a greener and sustainable future. The world leaders in 2015 reached an agreement at Paris to keep global temperature below 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels against the initial 2oC. This half degree reduction means a whole lot to the ecosystem. It is not just a figure, it represents the difference between safety and disaster for many regions, especially the vulnerable part of the country.
Achieving this goal would light up tremendous horizon for the country. There will be reduction in the length of extreme heat waves in the country, more arable lands will be available for farming, water bodies in the coastal regions would be less polluted, climatic variations currently experienced would be mitigated and there would be lesser carbon footprint on the environment. This would indisputably translate into a more-balanced ecosystem, more protected biodiversity and healthier water bodies. Do you know that studies have further shown that the 1.5 degree limit would trigger economic growth and create more energy related jobs? It would contribute significantly to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by reducing the adverse climate change impact on food security, clean water and good health.
In conclusion, the world and her problems is all ours. Achieving this goal is impossible without your contribution and mine. Well, I am excited to tell you that the impact race is on. Be ready. Be committed. Join us in the race to make the world a better place!
Odjugo, P. A.-a. (2010). General Overview of Climate Change Impacts in Nigeria. Journal of Human Ecology, 47-55.
This article was written by Durotoluwa Olumide. A 400 level student of the department of Chemical Engineering, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

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