14 April 2013

Nigeria: Changing Rainfall Patterns in Nigeria and Global Warming


It is now very obvious, even to those who had initial doubts about the veracity of the claim by scientists of rising global temperatures, that there is a change in the global climate pattern. Before now, the phrase 'global warming' seemed more like a joke; however, with the way climate has changed in recent times, the reality of what had hitherto been considered a fiction, and thought of as only perhaps real in what some termed "the delusional world of the scientist", is now glaring for all to see.

Global warming revolves around rising temperatures which have domino effect on the global landscape. This has been attributed to both natural and human causes. The latter, however, comes tops. The activities of man have had a serious negative impact on the climate.

The activities have resulted in the release of harmful gases that have led to rising global temperatures. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record. Scientists say that the earth could warm by an additional 7.2 degrees fahrenheit during the 21st century if we fail to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil.

Global warming, which has been majorly attributed to anthropogenic factors, top of which is green house gas emissions, has altered climate patterns around the world. Increased temperatures have triggered heat waves, delayed rainfall onset, increased flooding, extinction of wildlife, just to mention a few.

In July 2006, severe heat waves in North America contributed to the deaths of at least 225 people. Hot, dry weather led to a record-setting 2006 wild land fire season with close to 100,000 fires reported and nearly 10 million acres burned, 125 percent above the decade's average.

Global warming has brought about changes in weather patterns toward an intensified water cycle with stronger floods and droughts. In Nigeria, global warming has had a significant impact on rainfall-undoubtedly, the most significant component in agricultural practice, and the defining element in seasonal change.

Rainfall has grown more intense with frequent and devastating floods. 2012 was indeed a tragic year, country wide, as intense rains left in their wake wanton destruction of lives and properties. On 2, July 2012, many Nigerian coastal and inland cities experienced heavy rains.

In mid-July 2012, flooding in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, caused many residents to flee from their homes. In late July 2012, at least 39 people were killed due to flooding in Plateau State. Heavy rainfall caused the Lamingo Dam to overflow near Jos, sweeping across a number of neighborhoods and approximately 200 homes were submerged or destroyed.

In that year also, discharge of water from a dam in neighboring Cameroon, as a result of a downpour, triggered one of the most disastrous floods in the northern part of the country. Worst hit was Adamawa State, where no fewer than 89 schools were severely flooded, prompting the state government to indefinitely postpone the resumption of schools for the new academic year..

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, had, in March that year, warned about imminent heavy rainfall and the attendant flooding in many parts of the country, but the warning was either ignored or not taken seriously. Several conferences have been held on the international scene to check the release of harmful gases that are causing increase in global temperatures.

However, in the light of the devastating effects, most nations have still played hide and seek with the issue. It has, therefore, become incumbent upon nations at their own levels to check the problem. All nations must put all hands on deck to adjust to the changing weather patterns.

This must not be left to the weather watchers alone, as citizens must change their attitudes too by developing a green disposition towards the environment. This can come in various forms like tree planting, reduced gas emissions, putting up embankments, avoiding the dumping of refuse in drainage channels and clearing blocked channels, etc. Government has a major say in the actualization of all these and must thus work alongside the agencies concerned towards addressing the issue of changing climate patterns occasioned by human actions.

Tope is an HND II mass communication student of Federal Polytechnic Bida.

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