A week ago, the downpour of rain in Lagos left a lot of areas flooded. Houses and cars nearly submerged
in water that couldn’t pass through the drainage system.
Even worse was the tragedy of losing lives in the Suleja, Abuja flooding.
So what caused it? Why do we have flooding year after year? Bad drainage systems? Climate change
perhaps? Definitely worth looking into!
But how possible is that? What does climate change have to do with the floods?
During the 20th century, sea levels rose about 15 cm (approximately 6 inches) due to the expansion of
warmer seawater. It has been predicted that the sea level may still rise as much as 59cm (23 inches) in
the 21st century. This is a graphic representation by Union of Concerned Scientists
What this means for coastal communities such as Lagos Island, and wetlands is that they are susceptible
to flooding any time there is a heavy or consistent downpour.
Why is the sea level rising? It could be that over the last 150 years the balance of the earth has changed
because we have been living beyond our means. Basically, we have burnt a lot of coal, oil, and gas (fossil
fuels); we have cut down millions of hectares of forests!
All of these human activities are responsible for the change in climate.
What is climate and why does it have to change because of activities?
Weather is the change we see, feel and experience outside each day. The rainy days, the sunny days and
the windy days. Some days, it could alternate between being sunny and rainy.
The point is weather changes from time to time and from place to place. Basically, climate is the usual/known weather of a place.
Now when you have climate change, weather becomes inconsistent. Seasons change willy nilly and
some cities, you may experience up to three seasons in one day.
In science speak, climate change could also be called global warming (the rise in average surface
temperatures on Earth). And the overwhelming scientific consensus maintains that we (humans) are at
fault because of our use of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into
Changes in the climate will change the weather patterns and will bring more rain in some countries, but
others will have less rain, generally, dry areas will become drier and wet areas could become wetter.
Climate change is the reason Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen have the possibility of famine
which will endanger 20 million lives.
What do you need to know?
1. Humans are the primary cause of climate change: The burning of fossils emits greenhouse gases
(carbon dioxide). Other activities such as deforestation also lead to a rapid increase of these greenhouse
gases. They essentially equal climate change.
Rising sea levels and warming ocean temperatures have been linked to more frequent and stronger
storms, incessant rainfall – that leads to flooding and unfortunately the extinction of wildlife habitants
and human lives.
2. Nigeria is number 19 on the population exposed to sea rising levels by country: More than one-third of the entire earth’s population lives within 60 miles of the coast. But that’s not all, the sea levels have been predicted to rise between 0.3 and 0.9 metres by the end of this century (IPCC/UN).
However, sea levels have already risen an average of 8cm (3 inches) since 1992 according to Nasa.
Climate Central has listed Nigeria a number 19 on the list of countries that are exposed to rising sea
3. There is an alarming extinction rate of species: Experts have estimated that the loss of species we are witnessing today is between 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate!
Although, many of these species will gradually adapt to the new climate and create or evolve to the new
ecosystems, other may not be able to adapt or change as fast they need to – They need to adapt fast or
they die because climate change is happening so much faster than past temperature changes in the
This is consistent with a 2004 Leeds University report: 15 to 37 per cent of all species in several
biodiversity-rich regions at risk of extinction.
4. Even if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide right now, it won’t make much difference for a
thousand years: Scientists in climate change have agreed that we are on an irreversible path. The effects
of the damage done to the earth could last up to a thousand years.
“People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide that the climate would go back to
normal in 100 years or 200 years.
What we’re showing here is that’s not right. It’s essentially an irreversible change that will last for more
than a thousand years. This is because the oceans are currently soaking up a lot of the planet’s excess
heat — and a lot of the carbon dioxide put into the air. The carbon dioxide and heat will eventually start
coming out of the ocean. And that will take place for many hundreds of years.”
Susan Solomon (NOAA)
5. Don’t feel helpless: All is not lost, as long as we get involved. You can start by monitoring your energy
usage. Put off light bulbs and electronics that aren’t in use. Use renewable power if you can afford it.
Minimize the use of plastic bags, and recycle, reduce and reuse everything where possible.
You can avoid buying processed items. How about growing some of your own food? You can identify
plants that won’t take up much of your space.
And if you do have space, you can plant trees too. Because trees are the lungs of the earth!