The World Bank noted in 2012 that “the climate is warming, the consequences on the physical system are already visible, and the evidence point to human influence as the dominant cause of climate change is irrefutable.” Several research findings have shown the threats of climate change to human lives, other living animals and non-living objects, and that human activities are responsible for the major causes of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shown with 95-100% certainty that humans have been the major cause of global warming since the mid-20th century. It suffices to say that climate change is a story we already know about in Nigeria. What may seem new is the dynamics of this story which we tell based on our different encounter with climate change. Though we know the story and the threats before us, we lack the buy-in to change the story.
The flooding in 2012 has made climate change a prominent story in Nigeria today. The flooding experience has shown us that climate change poses both short-term and long-term threats to basic life amenities such as food, water, habitat, ecosystems, and critical infrastructures like energy, transport and coastal management. The flood caused severe socio-economic and environmental damage. On one hand, it was estimated that about 7.7 million Nigerians were affected by the flood and about 2 million people lost their homes. On the other hand, the flood caused enormous damage to the infrastructure, agricultural lands, recreational spaces and biodiversity.
Though not everyone was affected by the flood, however; climate change affects everyone in one way or the other. Climate change hits hard on the aviation sector. It is a common scenario to have flight schedules cancelled with passengers having very little or no idea. The reason is always bad weather or visibility problems. Global warming ensures frequent fluctuations in climatic parameters, irregular wind patterns, visibility problems, etc. The dynamics of these issues have characterized the Nigerian aviation sector in more recent times. There is a great deal of volatility in weather pattern. Though people who have been affected by climate change see the impacts differently, one thing remains clear- the pattern of climate change has been changing. This is evident when we transit from one season of the year to another.
Al Gore, the former US Vice President and the author of “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary film about his campaign on global warming, pointed out that “as human beings we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions.” We don’t need any exceptions no more. Time is somewhat running out on us to start pulling our efforts together to show our commitments in tackling environmental degradation and climate change.
The responsibility of tackling climate change does not fall solely on the shoulders of international organizations or governments, but also on our individual shoulders. As the 2010 World Development Report entitled “Development and Climate Change” noted, “by acting now, acting together and acting differently, we will be able to transition to a low emissions, climate resilient development path and hold warming below 2oC.” We can engage in activities or campaigns that can reduce greenhouse effects and maintain healthy environment. But commitment is important. Let’s see our commitments as our moral obligation to protect our environment.
We can engage strongly with our elected leaders in government to ensure that they formulate the right policies that spell out broad actions to address climate change, and when these policies are in place we need to ensure that they are implemented. We should ask the government how far it has gone in implementing the Nigeria’s Climate Change Policy, Response and Strategy. We should ask the government how committed it has been in countering the adverse effects posed by climate change with respect to the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change in Nigeria (NASPA CCN).
Huge gap exists in educating the younger generation on the need to maintain healthy environment. Parents often encourage their children to take business classes in order to have a business background because the world revolves around business; however, parents should equally encourage their children to take science classes to have a background in science. A good background in science can influence an individual’s perception about climate change. Also the business-as-usual syndrome should not be accepted anymore because it is imposing serious pressure on environmental quality. Take action now and help to reduce climate change. Your environment is your life, keep it safe!