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How Climate Change Affects Niger Delta

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Observations over the last 100 years has the instrumental temperature record showing an increased global mean temperature, commonly referred to as “global warming,” and this already has significant impacts on environmental and human life.

The effects of climate change on the biological or ecosystem is evident on the shifts in the range of plant and animal species to higher latitude and altitudes, increase in sea levels due to melting ice in the Artics, changes flown and fauna composition and abundance and in their life-cycle events.

Studies by the IPCC Fourth Assessment show that “most  of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed  increase in human greenhouse gas concentrations,” which could cause further global warming if the trend was not checked. Ecosystems have been observed to be completely destabilised, while human systems have various capacities of adapting to climate change.

Changes due to global warming include the release of terrestrial carbon due to deforestation and tree deaths, methane laserelease in the Artic and in coastal sediments, rise in sea levels, which is expected to reach between 18 and 59cm by the end of the 21 century, extreme weather conditions and changes in rainfall patterns.

There is also the possibility of global warming establishing favourable atmospheric conditions for disease carrying vectors making to possible for these organisms to spread diseases such as malaria dengne fever and viruses. What this means is that in poorer countries, this will lead to higher incidences of disease outbreak while the richer countries where diseases have been controlled would spend more money keeping these disease bearing insects out.

Climate change is largely due to anthropogenic activities of man and could be curbed only if these activities are reduced. Some countries have already began the process by implementing policies to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases.

Alarmed by levels of effect of climate change, heads of government, Ministers and Representatives of government most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming recently held a climate vulnerable forum in Copenhagen to find solutions to the menace of climate change, sadly the meeting tailed because it seemed some world leaders were not interested in reversing the activities that bring about increase in world temperature means or at least reduce it.

It has been established that the anthropogenic activities of the developed world actually contributed largely more than any other to the climate change that now threatens the  developing world which has contributed only about 2 percent.

Experts say “low-latitude and less developed areas are properly at the greatest risk from climate change.

How has this change in climate affected the Niger Delta of Nigeria, being the oil and gas bearing region.

Experts at the Institute of Geosciences and Space Science Technology Rivers State University of Science and Technology (IGST), say “we have not started noticing the extreme effect of climate change in the Niger Delta. That is not to say however that the region is not affected.”

A lecturer in the IGST, spoke on condition of anonymity explained that climate change is as a result of anthropogenic causes. “Anthropogenic means things that resulted from human activities industrial activities such as green house effect,” he explained.

He said the greenhouse gases attack the ozone layer which now allow ultra violet rays which ordinarily would not adversely affect the earth now directly hit the earth’s surface causing the ambient temperature to be high. This increase in temperature causes “the melting of the ice in the poles,” he further explains.

According to him, “we’re seen visible changes in the sea levels because of what is called the albido heating of the atmosphere which causes the melting of ice in the poles thereby increasing the volume of water in circulation.”

This is one area where climate change affects the Niger Delta and indeed all the coastal areas.

Another effect, he observed is the movement in seasons and seasonal vanetion of winds, this is evident upon the length of the rainy season due to heavy moisture in the atmosphere resulting from increased evaporation. “The timely of the seasons, you begin to get a considerable amount of moisture content because of increased evaporation and that would result in the maritime air mass which controls wind movement in the Niger Delta becoming saturated and this makes the rain fall regime becoming longer than what we sued to see which resultant effect is the regional flooding which also affects agriculture and other human activities.

These climatic changes also affect the flora and fauna in the Niger Delta by changing their life cycles and causing increased migration to more conducive areas for the organisms, he further said.

Another effect is acid rain, which virtually destroys everything it comes in contact with and has also gone to pollute groundwater through seepage.

He suggests that if the environmental laws in Nigeria could be implemented especially the law on gas flaring, carbon emissions into the atmosphere would be minimal and this would have little effect on the climate.

Giving an insight into how much Africa and Nigeria contribute to climate, an environmental rights activist, Mr Mike Karipko stated that Nigeria actually contributes very little to climate while Africa as a whole contributes only 2 percent.

“Our contribution is not something we should be overtly worried about, but because the climate change is a global issue, it requires every hand to be on deck to address,” he noted.

However, he observed, “when we talk about climate change in Nigeria, the first thing that comes to mind is gas flaring, the next is deforestation (there is massive deforestation going on in Nigeria),” these he said contribute enormously to the carbon levels in the atmosphere. Particularly, he said deforestation poses a lot of danger in that, the “forest acts as a carbon sink so when the forest is destroyed, the carbon in there is released into the atmosphere.” He stressed that deforestation and gas flaring are the major contributors to carbon emissions in the country. He said, regrettably there are no laws protecting the forest in Nigeria.

Commenting on the effects of climate change in the Niger Delta, he said this is evident in the “ocean surge we’ve seen,” farmers not being able to farm effectively due to seasonal instability and fisher men  no longer have big catches as there is massive migration of fishes.

On the way forward, he said, “people need to take responsibility for their climate challenge. Other low-carbon contributing nations are asking that the industrialised nations should help them develop differently from the way they did by providing funding for the development of renewable energy sources that would not contribute to the carbon build up and to “provide funds to help us build resilience that will enable withstanding climate change in our communities. He added that Copenhagen summit failed because “suddenly world leaders lacked the will power to act. There was no commitment that was specific. Under the Kyoto protocol, people were asked to reduce emission to 5 per- cent, on the basis of the 1990 levels of emission. But at Copenhagen nobody was asked to do anything or take responsibility to reduce emission.

The most vulnerable nations are asking in a draft declaration, that “developed countries bear the overwhelming historic responsibility for causing anthropogenic climate change, and must therefore take the lead in responding to the challenge across all four building blocks of an enhance international climate change regime-namely mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance-that builds upon the UNFCCC and its Kyoto protocol.

“They insist that “climate change poses an existential threat to our nations, cultures and way of life, thereby undermines the internationally-protected human rights of our people…”Chief Iranami Joseph, a paramount ruler in Bayelsa state a core Niger Delta state, at an energy roundtable by Social Action a non-governmental organisation, lamented that some species of fish and vegetation can no longer been in there communities while their structures suffer adverse degradation within five years of building them.

African leaders insist that “the fundamental principles and issues relating to the survival of peoples and preservation of sovereign rights are non-negotiable, and should be embedded in the Copenhagen legal agreement.

 

Tonye Nria-Dappa

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Sanitation Marshalls Warn Against Dumping Refuse In Gutters

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The Coordinator of Rivers
State Sanitation Marshalls, Prince Sodin Akiaba has warned residents of Port Harcourt and it environs against dumping of refuse into drainages.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt, Prince Akiabo blamed uses of flooding in parts of Port Harcourt especially in the Mile III area of the indiscriminate dumping of refuse into the gutters.
He said that with the approach of the rainy season, there is need for caution on the part of the people against indiscriminate refuse disposal.
Prince Akiaba said that the situation could lead to massive flooding across the city thereby creating health problem for the people.
He said that there is need for neighbourhood vigilantees to check this situation.
“Every street in Port Harcourt should formed a vigilantee to monitor refuse disposal in their street.
“This is the only way to stop the indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the drains,” he said.
The coordinator said that the sanitation marshalls can help the government to check this trend, if approval is given to that effect by the government.
He used the occasion to commend the Rivers State Ministry of Environment and the Rivers State Environmental Sanitation Authority for the efforts in keeping the city clean, but noted that the two agencies need to work with stakeholders for effective result.

L-R: Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Environment, Mr Taofeek Folami, Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Tunji Bello and his Information counterpart, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, at a briefing by Bello on the activities of the ministry in Lagos, recently.

L-R: Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Environment, Mr Taofeek Folami, Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Tunji Bello and his Information counterpart, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, at a briefing by Bello on the activities of the ministry in Lagos, recently.

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NOSDRA Seeks Oil Spill Response Base

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The National Oil Spill De
tection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has called on the military to establish an Oil Spill Response Base (OSRB) for quick intervention during oil spill emergencies.
Mr Peter Idabor, the Director General of the agency, made the call during a courtesy visit to Vice Admiral Usman Jibril, the Chief of Naval Staff, in Abuja.
Idabor said the base, if established, would serve as a veritable security for quick response and intervention by the agency during oil spill emergencies.
He recalled the Bonga oil spill incident and commended the Navy for providing a vessel to NOSDRA that ensured quick response.
According to him, crises usually occurred between affected communities and companies involved during oil spill emergencies.
He said partnership with the Navy had become critical due to its role in providing security to the maritime environment.
“It has become more critical for us to partner with the Nigerian Navy, especially when it has to do with issues relating to oil spill in this country.
“When there is a large oil spill, there is usually conflict between the community and the company involved.
“In most cases, it is sabotage and in such cases, we require the military to come in at certain point.’’
He said that most of the deaths in the Niger Delta had positive correlations with oil spillage.
He explained that people were at the risk of being affected by eating food that come from such polluted environment.
He also said the life span of most Nigerians was shortening due to the effect oil spill on the ecosystem.
“The attitudes of our oil explorers, especially when spills occur, it does not bother them that over a million of chemicals are spilled into the sea, which is very dangerous to health.
“The oil spill contaminate our aquatic resources and it affects the entire food chain as long as we survive on the food chain.’’
Responding, Jibril said the Navy was familiar with the operation of the agency, adding that it would support NOSDRA to stop oil spill in the country.
He said the force was also aware of the effects of oil spill to aquatic life and the environment.
The Navy Chief also commended the agency’s cooperation with the military, saying “you have reduced spillage and its attendant effects in the country within this few days.
“We are ready to contribute to stop oil spillage and we are ready to give to you information about spillage whenever they occur.
“Our new boats that we are importing from China have facilities to contain oil spillage.’’
He however, said the delay in the release of boats to the agency was to control their misuse and advised the agency’s management to henceforth, put in its administrative request at their time of need.
He gave an assurance that the Navy would reduce administrative bottlenecks to enable the agency to access the facility during emergencies.
Jibril, however, sought the support of NOSDRA in the provision of infrastructure to the force, saying, “we need to support one another to achieve our goals.
“We have the human capital base to do what we are trained to do; what we need more is the infrastructure and we call on other organisations to support us too.’’

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N300m Debt Worries C’River Water Board

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Mr James Buchan, the
General Manager (Operations) of Cross River State Water Board, said more than N300 million owed it by various consumers in the state posed a challenge to its operations.
Buchan said this in an interview with the newsmen in Calabar last week, saying that the board was worried about the debt.
He said the board spent an average of N25 million monthly on diesel and chemicals to sustain water supply, urging the consumers who owed to settle their bills.
The general manager said that the state government paid its water bills regularly, urging the consumer’s to emulate the government by paying their bills to avoid disconnection.
Buchan further advised the consumers to always make genuine complaints about the services of the board to guarantee uninterrupted clean water supply.
The manager also urged consumers to shun illegal connection and to report to the board, those, including its staff members, who engaged in fraudulent activities.
“We want to supply to the public well treated water, we want to provide 24 hours service to the people, but we can only do this with the help of the people,’’ he said.
Buchan promised that Geographic Information System had been put in place to streamline the operations of the board and improve services.
He said the board was also worried over the damage of its pipelines worth more than N300 million by road construction companies in the state.
Buchan said the board had, however, drawn the attention of the officials of the concerned construction companies to the development.

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