Why Young Nigerians Should Care About The Climate Emergency

September 6, 2019

“I never get light for two days. Na wetin concern me concern global warming?”

– The Average Nigerian
People caring about the world and the environment

With all of the problems in your life as a young Nigerian, you might believe that the climate emergency is a first world issue. But of your current challenges — Buhari’s ministerial list, un(der)employment, your laziness as a Nigerian youth — nothing is more pressing and affects all areas of your life, quite like the climate emergency. Nothing. Its effects are both immediate and far reaching. Let’s list them shall we?

1. Heat

Does your skin burn up the minute you step outside? Do you feel like you’re in a pressure cooker when you’re really just in a bus going to collect knacks? Have you abandoned knacks because it’s just too hot to fuck?

It’s not guilt doing you in. It’s the earth heating up. July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on earth. And it will get worse. The days will get hotter, heat waves more frequent. Knacks are not the only thing your body will lose. Increased temperatures lead to dehydration, heat strokes, respiratory problems and deaths. “The sun hot, the sun hot” can and may actually kill you. 

2. Air

But then there’s a breeze to cool you down. Fresh air. Bliss. For where? The trees have been cut down. The air you’re breathing is bad. 10/10 would not recommend. Close your nose. 

Nigeria has some of the most polluted cities in the world. If you live in Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Agbara, you know this to be true. There’s soot in the sky and “dust” falling on your body—except it’s not dust, and that’s just the one your eyes can see. 

PM2.5 the smallest, most dangerous particulate has been found in Nigeria’s air and is already chilling in your lungs. You don’t even have to be living in Port Harcourt to be in danger. 

Breathing polluted air can cause respiratory problems like asthma and lung cancer. You are also at the risk of ventricular hypertrophy and psychological complications. The polluted air you’re breathing in is also worsening your mental health. 

Oh, by the way, you can open your nose now. Take a breath and when you’re ready, dive in. Let’s talk about water. 

3. Water

With the climate emergency comes an increase in the volume and frequency of rainfall. Add that to the loss of soil cover and water shed by felling of trees and you have Nigeria with 99 problems and water definitely at number one. Communities like Erah lose their houses to heavy rainfall. The streets in Benin, Abuja and other cities are flooded, carrying in their currents, debris, cars, and big men. 

Guess what is a densely populated coastal city, with borehole pumps attached to most buildings, infamous traffic gridlocks, untreated wastewater, and is sinking at a rate of up to 25 centimeters a year with a projected loss of about 95 percent of the city’s northern surface to the sea by 2050? Jakarta, Indonesia. But if you thought Lagos, Nigeria, you wouldn’t be too far off the mark. The similarities between the two cities are uncanny. And despite this increase in rainfall in some parts, how weird is it that water is actually running out in others?

4. Food

Your face when you realise that climate change will eventually result in food shortage

This brings us to food. Nigeria’s agricultural production is gravely affected by a myriad of climate emergency originated problems. Flooding, drought, unhealthy polluted soil, conflict, rise in temperature leading to an increase in pests and more. The pressure on land use and overpopulation completes the very likely picture of increased food insecurity. And with a lack of proper nutrition comes bad health.

5. Health

Extreme weather conditions lead to ill health. Fighting to survive these disasters lead to minor, serious, sometimes fatal injuries. Flooding increases water borne diseases. Polluted air causes respiratory illnesses as well as lung cancer. Increased temperatures lead to heat strokes, dehydration and more. Effects of the climate emergency also affect fetal and child development. The climate emergency fucks up your mental health. It is associated with conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance use disorder and suicidal ideation.

6. War

The buzzword conflicts you know about, that lead to loss of lives and destruction of property, are actually fueled by the effects of the climate emergency. Changing rainfall patterns in the northern and middle belt limit the grazing area of herders who then encroach on land of farmers leading to severe, deathly gbas gbos. 

“In the Niger Delta, militant groups are attacking oil infrastructure, partially motivated by conflict over rights to land and waterways. Oil spills into waterways also contribute to food insecurity and malnutrition in this region.”

Even Boko Haram whose initial support stemmed from frustrations over northern citizen’s access to basic amenities, uses water as a weapon, poisoning the water sources of its opposition. 

According to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, Nigeria is ranked as the 22nd least ready country to deal with the impacts of climate change. Luckily, we’ve highlighted the changes you need to make in your little corner in the world. But first know this and know this well:

But keep your IELTS money first. Lol. Even after the Yahoovictus wahala blows over and these countries start begrudgingly giving you visa again, where you wan go? Why do you think they put the global in global warming? To decorate it? The climate emergency is fucking up cities and countries the world over. Everybody go hear am. Probably not like Nigeria sha but a visa will not save you from the climate emergency. 

Help yourself

I’m sorry to have been so grim in the earlier parts of this gist. Ask everyone who knows me, that’s not my real face. It’s just condition that made crayfish to bend. But I’m back to being positive now. 

So, while the bad news is that glaciers are melting, sea levels rising, forests burning, cities sinking, desert expanding, the air making you mental, the good news is you may not die. You can act to reduce the impact of the climate emergency.

Here’s how. 

We plenty. Not only is Nigeria’s population large and growing, a majority of that population are young-ins like you and I. That is to say, whatever changes we make as individuals adds up to a significant sum as a collective. You, and the actions you take, matter.

Lifestyle change

Now I must tell you something that will annoy you. You are not the primary culprit in this climate emergency wahala. The Americas and UKs and France and Germanys, Shells and Exxonmobils, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Unilevers of the world are the major bad guys and that’s the truth.  Although you and your government still join small sha.

While the major ways to combat this menace include a halt to burning of fossil fuel, deforestation, plastic packaging etc., for this article I will focus on the things you and I can do right now to make a difference.

First first, drop the single use plastic Lacasera bottle in your hand. Stop buying it. The ones you already drank and discarded you’re going to be inhaling and eating as micro plastics for a very very long time. E don do. 

Now, lifestyle choices. Travel, fast fashion, agriculture, these are some of the largest culprits of greenhouse gas emissions. And these are areas where we can make a difference. Walk to your destination as often as possible. Buy a bicycle. Try to carpool. Enter BRT/Oshiomole buses as much as possible. Buy thrift clothes. Give out clothes you no longer need. Don’t buy as much clothes as often. 

“It’s not okrika, it’s vintage you uncultured swine, now comot hand from my cloth,”

said a city boy with sense.

Rethink waste culture. #ShopUsed. A thing you are done with is not necessarily done for. Be adventurous with food. By that I mean try to enjoy food without meat in it. I know. I know. But what will it profit Amenze to eat fire burger every day from Tuckshop and lose the world? Just sha try to find joy in non-meat meals. 

See, young people already dictate culture, influence policy, company strategy, drive innovation, tell our stories. As we climb our career ladders, we must  use the resources available to us for the environmental good. And we must do it together, as a community. 

The climate emergency threatens all of the very fundamentals of life. It threatens our access to food, air, water, shelter. The math is simple. If we do not act, we will suffer, many will die. We still have a tiny window. It’s the day after the deadline, when the best work gets done anyway, so let’s double up and get to work. 

Guest post by S.I Ohumu

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