By Saifullahi Attahir
Our grandparents used to remember with nostalgia how, in the past 50 years, they usually had a high-yield harvest yearly-round in the farms and surprisingly with total abstinence from using fertilisers and other modern additives. The bushes are full of trees of all sorts, vegetative forests with various colourful and nutritious leaves, guavas, mangoes, paw-paw, and dates, to name a few. A farmer was almost always sure to have a sufficient harvest for the family with little manure from his domestic animal dungeons. They always harvest enough to feed themselves and their families, even more for the neighbourhoods.
Surprisingly, today, with all the powerful tools for mechanical farming, with all the ‘Almighty’ fertiliser, with all the agricultural institutions, with all the army of PhDs in academia, we harvest less and less. For the past two decades, our weather has constantly fluctuated with no certainty of what to crop this year or next. For instance, a farmer would cut rice this year on clay land and experience drought, so precisely the following year, when he decided to switch to grains ( millet or sorghum), which would perfectly suit the dry land, unexpectedly, there would be a massive flood.
I live in Jigawa State and had first-hand experience with this scenario. Our farmers constantly switch between sesame (‘ridi’), groundnut, millet, and even rice. Places once dry land for sorghum and groundnut are now perfectly turned into rice farming lands. If you are doubting, come to areas around Sara town in Gwaram Local Govt, Jigawa state.
Jigawa state was initially named ‘Jigawa’ because of the large number of dry land primarily available for farming crops requiring less water. How are these vast areas becoming a mix-up, and even some submerged below water? How did we arrive arrived at this juncture? Why do we experience more floods and erosion disasters yearly?
Some of those answers are written on the wall as an effect of climate change caused by man-made activities that we failed to take any heed or measures. Some of those effects result from our ignorance to look into our environments and how we take care of our stomachs. These effects result from continuously perpetuating natural resources to satisfy our insatiable human greed.
Over the past decade, scientists and the media have been constantly alerting the populace on the danger that global temperature changes pose to the living conditions we are currently enjoying. Some of those warnings were already in effect in many parts of the globe. Research has shown how the continuous depletion of the ozone layer by emission from fossil fuel by our engines and industries poses a great danger to the protection we once enjoyed from the Sun. The direct ultraviolet radiation from the heating Sun is no longer protected by the ozone layer, making it descend directly into our atmosphere. This led to the increased rise of the earth’s temperature to a fraction of a degree. The earth’s temperature has reached almost 2°c ( degree centigrade), with future expectations to reach 3°c.
The rise in earth’s temperature led to the constant melting of polar ice in the global North around Greenland. If you don’t know, these ices served as a pillar to the seas, habitation of billions of aquatic life, and a source of living for humans. If that ice melts, it will continue to kill those animals, shifting the ecological balance to the negative. Not only that, but mass migration of those living around the Poles would lead to overcrowding in other parts of the world, probably Europe or Africa.
Most of the current danger of global warming was caused by the developed Nations in the global North, especially Europe, which for over 200 years possessed engines that constantly polluted the air with carbon. Those countries include the US, UK, Germany, Russia, and China. Ironically, the underdeveloped countries in the global South are at the receiving end of the punishment, where floods, famine, earthquakes, storms, desertification, erosions, and drought constantly threaten them. The global South countries at constant risk of global warming are Pakistan, India, Indonesia, South America, and West and Sub-Saharan Africa.
One of the effects of global warming that people hardly pay attention to are as follows ;
1) Whenever any part of the world experiences a flood, famine, or earthquake, that part automatically becomes uninhabitable, and most of its inhabitants tend to migrate to safer places and greener pastures, especially cities. This would lead to overcrowding of urban areas, the creation of more slums, an increased crime rate, fewer job opportunities, and a reduction in the available land for farming and farmers themselves. These are the natural causes of food insecurity we see daily, the natural causes of the xenophobic attacks we hear daily, and the natural causes of the immigration problem we experience daily.
2) Overgrazing of the land without proper ways of replenishing and the constant encroachment of those specific forests and environments reserved for nomadic livestock in Northern Nigeria have forced the Nomadic Fulani to travel far to Southern Nigeria in search of pasture. This would automatically cause some altercation regarding rights, privacy, and intrusion, which causes the constant farmer-herders conflict escalating and metamorphosing into something else.
3) Many of those Fulani were now barren of their millennia-old source of livelihood (livestock) or were forced to abandon the practice because of the scarcity of grazing fields through encroachment by expanding Government or Private projects ( roads, railways, colleges, companies, hydroelectric dams). Worse, they could not attend schools or learn modern skills and mostly lived deep in the forest, so Government social amenities were scarce or absent. What do you expect from this scenario: aged old frustration accumulating over the years of negligence, ignorance, poverty, despair and envy? So those kinds of young idle minds can become a devil’s workshop if care is not taken. It’s easy to convince them through propaganda to carry weapons, which we now see as a form of banditry, armed robbery, kidnappings, and terrorism.
4) We have been witnessing the constant conversion of places once ecological habitats reserved for forestation and farming various food crops that our lives depend upon. These places are now becoming Universities, companies, barracks, airports, hotels, and rail tracks. These activities lead to less land for farming despite the exponential growth in the world population, hence the less harvest. This is the cause of hunger. Hunger leads to conflict, wars, illness, and debasement of human capital development.
The effect was not only caused by the developed Nations. We, too, have our share of the problem. I’m sure everyone raised in a rural area is aware of the constant deforestation by our people to gather burning sticks, and the worrying part is we cut the trees without planting others in their place. According to research, we need to plant ten trees instead of each one we cut down. But the sad story is that we are not even practising 1 for 1 (i.e. cut down one tree and plant one tree).
Sub-Saharan Africa is constantly threatened by desert encroachment, which would only be averted by planting more trees, especially along our roads and desert belt. People living around Jigawa State are aware of the continuous desertification yearly by metres in previously non-desert environments. This has a human and economic cost.
Over the past five decades, the world has continually witnessed the gradual extinction and disappearance of many species of plants and animals from the earth’s surface whose research shows they enormously contribute to the stability and maintenance of ecological equilibrium. For instance, vultures were once abundant over the skies, contributing to the degradation of carcasses that pollute the air, but today, rarely can you spot the vultures.
Hyenas, tigers, elephants, kangaroos, giraffes, swans, and thousands of other sauna and floras in aquatic and terrestrial forms were nowhere to be found. Some of those missing animal species have migrated to other parts of the globe with favourable weather. At the same time, many were wiped out through perpetual game hunting industrial and chemical poisoning. Did we know the catastrophic effect of the disappearance of these species from our planets?
It’s unsurprising that one day, humans too may start migrating to more favourable weather conditions if adverse climatic effects ravage them.
Some of the popularly known places affected daily by climate change include Jakarta, one of the world’s most densely populated cities in Indonesia, with floods destroying homes and lives every year. Hurricane Katrina in the US was a storm and mighty wind that destroyed houses, bridges, and humans. Makoko Slum in Lagos, Nigeria, is a densely populated area above water, inhabited mainly by immigrants searching for job opportunities from the deserted rural part of the country. Auyo in Hadejia Jigawa State, an area stretching many local Governments yearly affected by floods and erosion, causing devastating destruction and loss of human lives. Greenland is part of the globe at the far north pole around Antarctica. Those places are mostly covered with ice, but today, this ice melting rapidly, causing migration of the people around those parts.
The climate change effect is putting the world into a dilemma, with rising sea levels on the one hand and extreme drought and desertification on the other.
Some archaeological exploration has shown that today’s mostly desert Middle Eastern world flourished with vegetation and abundant water, lives, and different aquatic and terrestrial species. It’s only time that would tell whether we are retracing back to that same period conditions.
Finally, the developed nations should continue diversifying their energy source through electric vehicles, solar stations, biodegradable energy, and hydroelectric power sources to abandon the toxic fossil fuels that pollute the atmosphere with excess greenhouse emission gases ( methane and carbon monoxide).
Also, the global South, including Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries, should embrace conserving our God-given resources by planting more trees, regulating deforestation, and creating robust public awareness of the importance of Ecological Conservation.
Saifullahi Attahir wrote via email@example.com.