The effects of climate change in Nigeria

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Sr. Elizabeth discusses how climate change in Nigeria is dramatically altering the way Nigerians will live now and in the future.

Climate change has recently become a most controversial environmental issue. It is one which affects our global environment and our social, economic and even political life. Environmental changes are dramatically altering the way we live now and how we will live in the future.

Change in the amount of rainfall and a rise in average earth temperatures can bring potential devastation to large portions of our earth. A small bit of this might be due to natural occurrences like volcanic activities and natural disasters, variations in the earth's orbit and axis or even the solar cycle itself. But many researchers believe the more extreme changes are due to human activities, like fossil fuel burning, deforestation, desertification, resources depletion and pollution of water, air and soil.

The atmosphere for me is like a blanket covering the earth. Due to the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases (methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, water vapor etc.)  being released daily into the atmosphere mainly by human activities, the warmth of the sun rays being reflected by the earth are not sufficient to disperse these gases back into outer space. Thus, the heat from the sun is trapped in the atmosphere causing global warming.

My early love for the earth

While growing up in the southwest part of Nigeria, I always woke up to the smell of fresh air and beautiful vegetation. We had flowers, shrubs and trees planted all around my compound. As a girl-child, my duty was to sweep the compound and put the leaves and other things for decaying into the compost heap. Later we would use the manure to fertilize our vegetable garden. We also had a huge incinerator where my father would take care of things for burning. As a 10-year old girl, I was given the duty in school to sweep my principal's office. I always brought fresh flowers from home and arranged them on her table. She was very touched by that gesture. Before I knew it, some members of the staff started asking me for flowers and I became known as “the flower girl”.

I love an orderly environment because I know that it facilitates good health and helps to give me purer oxygen that I need to breath. To this day, whenever I enter a compound, I always look for flowers. Wherever I find none, I start planting. In 2008, I came for my formation studies to the compound of the Institute for Formators in Jos, Plateau state. There were no beautiful flowers in the compound. Some were dried up or struggling to survive. I picked up the task of re-planting flowers and beautifying the compound. People entering the compound started appreciating my effort and now everyone has come to love the compound.

Growing up, each family took good care of their surroundings. Nobody waited for the government to come and clear the gutters, sweep the compound and weed. We even had a national environmental cleaning day every last Saturday of the month.

"In my teenage years, I started hearing about ozone layer depletion. I thought all the effects of global warming would not come in my own generation, but I am feeling the impact already. I am seeing the dangers and effects all around me. I am anxious to do something about it."

Effects of Climate Change in Nigeria

Some of the effects of climate change I am seeing around me here in Nigeria are:

Change in the pattern of rainfall

Stable, predictable rainy seasons no longer exist, so in areas where there are no irrigation systems, food production is greatly reduced. Besides a food shortage, drought causes excessive heat which increases disease and death.

Air pollution

Increased pollution in the air causes people to suffer from asthma, nasal problems, sore throat, eye problems and birth defects, Activities like bush burning, emission of gases from vehicles, quarrying, smelting, blasting, waste from factories and coal mining are some of the human activities responsible for this.

Water pollution

Water is life as I learned as a child in the story of the creation In years past, homes in Nigeria had treated tap water running into our houses. Now each house has boreholes but no guarantee that the drinking water is of acceptable purity.

  • People block drainage and gutters with waste. This has caused contaminated water, flood, loss of properties and lives. Industries, hospitals and factories dispose of their wastes in sea, rivers and oceans which is also not good for our health.
  • Oil spillage in the southern part of Nigeria has rendered their water unsafe for consumption. Global warming affects the carbon cycle which reduces the availability of water resources for drinking, energy and agricultural production.
  • As polar ice caps melt, carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans affecting the marine food chain. Melting polar icecaps also cause a rise in the sea level which is a big danger when one considers that more than a quarter of the world's population lives on coast or near an ocean.

L and pollution

Improper waste disposal, mono-cropping, use of chemical fertilizers, oil spillage, over- grazing, cutting down of trees and not re-planting has led to l and contamination and deforestation. In turn, we witness erosion and loss of properties as we don't have windbreakers and shelter belts to protect our roofs and buildings from oncoming wind. Many houses collapse because the soil is depleted and foundations are weakened..

Loss of biodiversity

Many good trees meant for herbs have been cut down. Many animals and plants that are useful like fungi have gradually gone into extinction. Earthworms have disappeared, butterflies are gradually decreasing. Some mammals and birds have gone into extinction or migrated to other regions. Most of the depletion has occurred from building mega-cities and many shopping malls. Yes they are all good things but our life is at risk here.

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I think it is high time for us human beings on earth to make other choices, to change our lifestyle, to wake up and take good care of our common home, the EARTH. Please speak out about the danger of climate change. Try your best to make choices that will preserve vegetation, mammals and birds. We are all to co- exist. We need one another.

Poem by Sr. Elizabeth Babalola

How can I describe the beautiful landscape, where I find my strength?
Where I breathe in joy, and breathe out sorrows
Where I find food to replenish my weary soul
Where birds sing a melodious hymns of praise
Where mountains and rocks stood with their heads high up
Where plants bow and wave to acknowledge the creator.

How can I describe the beautiful environment, where I find happiness?
Where I watched the streams running on
Where I watched the sun rise and set
Where the moon shines brightly
Where the stars twinkle on
Where the gentle breeze blow my sweat away

How can I describe the beautiful atmosphere, I find inspiration
Where I sit and reflect under a mango tree
Where I pray in front of an orange tree
Where I play under the cherry tree
Where I meet friends under the great oak tree
Where the flowers speak to me and show me the beauty inside

How can I behold all these being destroyed by human hands?
How can I just fold my hands and wait thinking things will change?
How can I not raise my voice and speak out and against this climate change
The earth keep speaking to me, begging me to whisper in your ears.

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Sr. Babalola Tolulope Elizabeth, DHS

Sr. Babalola Tolulope Elizabeth, DHS
HESA Alumna - Nigeria  

Sr. Loretta Mulry, IHM

Sr. Loretta Mulry, IHM
Volunteer Editor - USA  

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