Global warming (climate change) also leads to sea-level rise with its attendant consequences, and includes fiercer weather, increased frequency and intensity of storms, floods, hurricanes, droughts, increased frequency of fires, poverty, malnutrition and series of health and socio-economic consequences. It has a cumulative effect on natural resources and the balance of nature. Desertification in Nigeria arises from the demands of increased populations that settle on the land in order to grow crops and graze animals.
However, desertification is presently affecting the eleven rather states and is also considered the most pressing environmental problem and accounts for about 73% out of the estimated total cost of about US$5. 110 billion per annum the country is losing arising from environmental degradation (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 1999). This paper discusses briefly, the menace of global warming and desertification, the causes of this menace and solutions. Further, it analyses the extent and the impact of global warming and desertification on the Nigerian ecosystem.
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INTRODUCTION Nigeria has a rarity of ecosystems, from mangroves and rainforest’s on the Atlantic coast in the south to the Savannah in the north bordering the Sahara. Whether dry or wet, these ecosystems are being battered by global warming and desertification and the impact can be vast. In the aspect of globalization, some stable ecosystems such as the Sale Savanna may become vulnerable because global warming will reinforce existing patterns of water scarcity and increase the risk of drought in Nigeria and indeed most countries in West Africa.
As well, the country’s aquatic ecosystems, wetlands and Other habitats ill create overwhelming problems for an already impoverished populace. Preliminary studies on the vulnerability of various sectors of the Nigerian economy to Climate Change were conducted by the Nigerian Environmental Study/Action Team (NEST). The sectors evaluations were based on seven natural and human systems identified by the Intergovernmental panel on climatic change (EPIC), and were later condensed into five.
They include: ; Human settlements and health; ; Water resources, wetlands, and freshwater ecosystems; ; Energy, industry, commerce, and financial services; Agriculture, food security, land degradation, forestry, and biodiversity; and ; Coastal zone and marine ecosystems. The study determined that virtually all of the sectors analyzed manifested some evidence of vulnerability to global warming. None were unaffected, nor will remain unaffected in future by changes in climatic conditions.
In fact, more recent assessment although in regional and global scale, not only corroborate the patterns established by Canada-Nigeria Climate Change Capacity Development Project(CNN-CDC) reports but captured more stubbing scenarios using more embracing and sophisticated approaches (Intergovernmental panel on Climatic Change, 2007). Indications are that the climate system is more sensitive than originally thought. Scientists have spent decades figuring out what is causing global warming. They have looked at the natural cycles and events that are known to influence climate.
But the amount and pattern of warming that is been measured can’t be explained by these factors alone. The only way to explain the pattern is to include the effect of greenhouse gases (Eggs) emitted by humans. One of the first things scientists learned is that there are several greenhouse gases responsible for warming, and humans emit them in a variety of ways. Most come from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production. The gas responsible for the most warming is carbon dioxide, also called ICC.
Other contributors include methane released from landfills and agriculture (especially from the digestive systems of grazing animals), nitrous oxide from fertilizers, gases used for refrigeration and industrial processes, and the loss of forests that would otherwise store ICC. Desertification could be described as the spread of a desert environment into arid or semiarid regions, caused by climatic changes, human influence, or both. (Cline 2007) Climatic factors include periods of temporary but severe drought and long- term climatic changes toward dryness.
Human factors include artificial climatic alteration, as through the removal of vegetation (which can lead to unnaturally high erosion), excessive cultivation, and the exhaustion of water supplies. Desertification drains an arid or semiarid land of its life-supporting capabilities. It is one of the major causes of global warming. About 81. 5 billion metric tons of carbons are added into the atmosphere annually out of which about 3. 5 billion metric tons are contributed by deforestation, fossil fuels, organic matter, forest fire and other human activities. Asthma and Asthma, 2003). It is characterized by a declining groundwater table, salt accumulation in topsoil and water, a decrease in surface water, increasing erosion, and the disappearance of native vegetation. Moreover, desertification is often accompanied by land degradation in arid and semi-arid areas resulting from arioso factors including climate variations and human activities therefore, leading to loss of arable land, displacement, resettlement and loss of grazing land.
The Nigerian first National Communication (2003) indicates that Sudan-Sale that is mostly 1 1 states of Northern Nigeria have suffered decrease in rainfall in the range of about 30-40 percent or about 3-4 percent decades since the beginning of the century. With this desert encroachment, over 90 percent of the population in the frontline states being farmers who depend directly on a wide range of natural resources and the ecosystem revise for their livelihood will face the severe impact of drought.
Desertification leads to poverty with all social, economic and cultural consequences, with women being the most vulnerable and also leading to serious wind erosion and loss of agricultural lands. Desertification could also lead to food insecurity, loss of livelihoods and livestock, forced migration, increase in rate of soil erosion, contribution to global warming and loss of bio diversity. One of the major causes of desertification is deforestation, which is the cutting down of trees for domestic uses and this affects the ecosystem actively.
Overgrazing of lands by nomads and careless bush burning could also contribute to the desertification. Solutions. There are possible solutions to global warming and desertification in Nigeria, The citizens and the government should put in effort to curb the effects of these two problems. The govern meet should also implement policies that would encourage the planting and grooming of trees. Drastic measures should be taken concerning industries that release dangerous fumes and toxic gases into the atmosphere.