As the wildfire rages and spreads across Canada, so also are the heat waves unbearably high in Nigeria. Worse hit by this unfriendly weather condition are the children, who are made to endure unwanted ‘tattoos’ inscribed by heat rashes all over their bodies. The reason for this harsh weather is fundamentally due to climate change.
Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases include water vapour which acts as a feedback to the climate. It increases as the earth atmosphere warms. Other greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide released through natural processes such as respiration and volcano eruptions and through human activities such as deforestation, land use changes, and burning fossil fuels.
Basically, these greenhouse gases act like a blanket around Earth, trapping energy in the atmosphere and causing it to warm. This phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect which is natural and necessary to support life on Earth. However, the excessive buildups of these greenhouse gases overtime have been largely responsible for change in Earth’s climate, resulting in dangerous effects to human health and welfare and to ecosystems.
These negative impacts of climate change to the human environment are in form of more frequent wildfires, temperature rise, erratic rainfall, sand storms, desertification and low agricultural yield. Other effects include, longer periods of drought in some regions and an increase in the number, duration and intensity of tropical storms, drying up of water bodies and flooding which has become a global phenomenon. It had also been predicted that Cities with high concentrations of people and buildings, particularly those along the coast, will be more adversely affected by climate change in the future and need to adapt to the impacts of climate.
In Nigeria, the aforementioned scenario aptly describes the situation the city of Lagos has found itself. The state of aquatic splendour, which also prides itself as the smallest but most populous and fastest growing urban centre in Nigeria, is perhaps one of the cities expected to be affected by climate change. According to the United Nations, the industrial activities that the modern day civilization depends upon in urban centers such as Lagos, have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years.
Massive amounts of carbon are stored in tropical forests. When these areas are cleared, either for building of houses or industries, this greenhouse gas gets released into the atmosphere and accelerates climate change. Studies have shown that deforestation accounts for 11% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, studies have also shown that habitat destruction and land use changes are degrading and destroying wetlands and coastal forests — the natural buffers that help protect coastal areas against storm surges, rising sea levels and erosion. Furthermore, a stronger greenhouse effect will warm the oceans and partially melt glaciers and other ice, increasing sea level. Ocean water also will expand if it warms, contributing further to sea level rise.
As a result of the situation that the city of Lagos has found itself, it has positioned itself as a leader in safe guarding the environment. This it has been able to achieve through its “Operation green Lagos” initiative which was conceived to restore the lost glory of Lagos as a beautiful and healthy state, enhance the aesthetics of the environment, mitigate the impact of climate change and ensuring environment sustainability in line with the Millennium Development Goal (MDG 7). The State has been hosting the climate change summit since 2008.
Confronted with these enormous tasks, the State government immediately commenced aggressive tree planting campaign to respond to the effects of adverse weather condition, as well as to complement the existing landscaping and beautification programme of the state by the Ecology and Conservation department of the Ministry of the Environment.
Furthermore, the State has demonstrated unwavering commitment towards this project by ensuring that all criminals’ hideout and open spaces were converted to parks and gardens. And in order to guarantee the sustainability of the project, the Lagos State Parks and Garden Agency was established.
The present administration of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has demonstrated a better understanding of the Lagos Greenery programme by convening the first ever Greening Stakeholders’ Forum in November 2015. The Forum afforded experts from across the globe the opportunity to brainstorm and proffer the way forward on all issues affecting the state’s greening initiatives.
In furtherance of his administration policy thrust of massive investment on security, physical and social infrastructure with job creation, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, also initiated a job creation programme that will see the emergence of 114 Assistance Horticulturists who will be trained by the agency and on graduation deployed to all mini nurseries that will soon spring up in all the 57 LGAs & LCDAs as a pilot project. This, according to the governor, will substantially reduce the cost of managing the Parks and Gardens.
Currently, the Agency, through this laudable project has created over 96,484 jobs; planted 6,203,553 trees across the state; pruned 34,992 trees; felled 1,923 trees; established 313 parks and gardens with a large number of fun seekers visiting the two major public event parks in Ikeja and Victoria Island.
In ensuring participation of all stakeholders especially the youths, various programmes were designed to inculcate tree planting culture among school pupils. For instance, the ‘Me and My Tree’ competition that was designed for both primary and secondary school students have seen some winners of the competition sponsored abroad by the state government for an exchange programme in Germany, South Africa and Singapore.
Also, the Green Club project was launched in 2015 in all the educational districts across the state, to educate the youths on the importance of tree planting and renewable energy as a mean of combating the menace of climate change and global warming. These youths are expected to go back to their constituencies and share the knowledge acquired with family members and peers alike.
Taking a cue from the Lagos State example, all tiers of governments must collaborate with International agencies and other development partners to fund climate change projects in the country for sustainable solution to this global phenomenon.