Previously we discussed on what climate change is and the effect of this climate change on our environment, you can catch up here
On the second part of this two-part article, we will be discussing on how climate change affects us as human beings and the measures that have been put forward to control the effects of climate change.
Effect of climate change on you and me
Whatever is going on in the environment always has a direct or indirect effect on humans. The relationship between man and the environment isn’t one-way, just as we have distorted its natural course, we are also seeing some changes in our natural course. As earlier discussed, the change in climate makes precipitation pattern unpredictable which leaves us with low food production, currently 1 in every 7 people are hungry and there would be an increase in this number as climate change persists.
A new UN report says that health risk is on the rise, this can be traced to climate change. It is expected that as hotter climate season extends it gives room for the spread of infectious diseases and carrier pest to thrive longer. This means diseases would be introduced into new environments and those which already existed such as malaria would have an ideal condition for reproduction and duplication. Climate change is also expected to introduce a new illness which has never been experienced before. If this goes on, we are headed for a lot of deaths in the coming years.
An estimated figure of 22.5 million people are displaced annually by climate or weather-related disasters, these figures are expected to increase in the future as more disasters have been predicted to occur in the coming years. Disasters such as flooding, hurricane and wildfires. In the event of any disaster, lives, properties and arable land would be lost.
Ocean acidification and acid rain are not left out, these events have a direct and indirect effect on us. The acid lowers sea pH and strip it of carbonate ions which hampers the ability of marine life to survive. This would also lead to a reduction in nutrition for us because we depend on this species for much of our protein needs. The acids also have major effects on crop yield as it robs the soil of its essential nutrients. Not forgetting that in most developing countries people collect water directly from the source for domestic use, this has a direct effect on their health, it is predicted that in Africa 75 to 250 million people would be exposed to water stress due to climate change by 2020.
Shrinking ice which has led to a rise in sea levels is one of the major causes of flooding and loss of coastal lines in many parts of the world. Lekki Beach in Lagos has been observed to have advanced over 900 meters landwards, it is reported that tents and entertainment spots have been washed away in previous years. As the ocean keeps advancing, climate scientists have estimated that by 2050 the sea might rise by 1 meter and the risk of most parts of Lagos being underwater.
Ongoing control measures
Despite all the warnings, greenhouse gas emission continues to rise and the effects as we have seen has ripple effects and are becoming more and more intense. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is working to address the issue on a global level to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration level. The first step to doing this is the Kyoto protocol of 1997, which sets binding emission target for developed countries. Secondly is the Paris Agreement which took place in the Paris Conference of 2015 but entered into force in 2016 with an action plan to reduce emissions by 2 degrees Celsius. Nigeria joined the global community to adopt treaties meant to tackle climate change. Nigeria became a Party to the UNFCCC in 1992 and ratified the Convention in 1994, it also became a Party to the Kyoto Protocol in 2004. Nigeria ratified the Paris Agreement (PA) in March 2017, which was approved by the UNFCCC on the 16th May 2017 and entered into force on 15th June 2017.
Scientists have come up with two possible approaches to curb some of these effects:
Mitigation: deals with reducing the emission levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere and limit human interference with the climate system, stabilize greenhouse gas levels. It ranges from actions such as
- Burning fewer fossil fuels.
- Increase the use of more renewable energy such as wind solar and biomass.
- Practising efficient energy use in industries office and households.
- Carbon tax and emission markets.
- Enhancing the carbon sink by planting more trees.
Adaptation: even if we stopped the emission of greenhouse gases today, climate change would not go away because greenhouse gases linger in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and the planet take a while to respond. The goal of adaptation is to reduce the vulnerability of the harmful effects of climate change, it involves:
- Landscape restoration and reforestation.
- Cultivating enough food ahead of catastrophes.
- Researching and developing ways to manage predicted disasters.
- More secure facilities, location and infrastructure.
Climate Change is a global issue and governments at international, national and local levels have their roles to play by implementing policies to ban the use and emission of some harmful gases, to control waste disposal, regulate deforestation and institute afforestation. It doesn’t stop there, the solution could also be on a local and individual scale. We all have a role to play in making the planet more conducive for living. As individuals, we need to make specific decisions today to leave less footprint in the climate, some of which are
- Making deliberate actions to learn about climate change.
- Reduce your carbon footprint by using fewer resources.
- Burn less fossil fuel by walking when going short distances and using mass transit once in a while.
- Plant trees, they are good carbon sinks.
- Conserve energy by switching off electrical appliances when not in use
- Reduce, reuse and recycle waste products, this reduces methane released from landfills and less dependence on natural resources
- Educate friends and family.