The reports of bloody clashes between Fulani herdsmen from the North and farmers from the Middle-Belt and South-East of Nigeria continues to raise panic, prompting calls from certain quarters on the Federal Government to formally declare the Fulani herdsmen terrorists. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) – an umbrella body in charge of emergency control in Nigeria reports that over 168 villages have been affected, leading to about 10, 000 deaths, hundreds of thousands displaced persons and properties worth billions of USD destroyed.
The reasons behind these clashes are even more worrisome than the effects; the clashes are attributed to struggle for pasture and fertile land. As a result of the changes in the country’s Eco-System (like everywhere else in the world), the lands in the North have been swallowed up by desertification due to the increasing expansion of the Sahara Desert, and the Lake Chad which flows across Northern Nigeria has dried up – remaining less than 1, 300 Square kilometers of what was over 40, 000 Square Kilometers a few decades ago. This has prompted the herdsmen to move from the North towards the Middle Belt and far South in search of grass and water – often at the expense of agitated farmers whose farmlands are destroyed and streams polluted in the process. Farmers must protect their cultivation and cattle must feed, so a battle erupts; but the real enemy is climate change!
Photo Credit: United Nations
The world is sitting on a landmine and the drastic realities of global warming are closer to our door steps than we think. Yet, we continue to play cheap politics and offer lip service on the battle against climate change. It appears many world leaders take lightly the reports by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showing negative progressions attributed to climate change.
Our world is changing; nature is at war with humanity. We brought this upon ourselves by abusing our beautiful planet through our actions and inaction; global climate change is as a result of increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to our reckless abandon to the incessant use of fossil fuels. We need to act fast because global warming threatens our very existence.
The world must increase her ambition and do more to achieve the 1.5 degree goal set on December 12, 2015 at the Paris Agreement by the EU and 129 country representatives present. We must give this threat all the seriousness it requires and accept the bitter truth that the world can only achieve success if we work together towards a common goal, rather than try to tackle it individually.
To achieve the 1.5 degree limit, I believe the world must completely change her orientation on these two key issues:
Photo Credit: Macmillian
1. Forestation: It is surprising that despite our knowledge of the fact that forests help prevent the release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and forestation is our greatest chance of achieving our 1.5 degree target, more than 7 million hectares of forest is lost each year. This statistics exposes our mediocrity towards combating climate change. It is high time the world did more in preserving our forests; and this would involve a total alteration in our definition of urbanization and industrialization. We cannot afford to fell another tree; rather we must begin to invest in reforestation if we are serious about achieving our goal.
2. Agriculture: This is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide only behind the energy sector and accounts for about 13 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which records show is as a result of the ever increasing demand for food due to the rise in population. I do not believe the world needs to increase agricultural production in order to meet food demand because according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people. This means that curbing current agricultural wastes will not only satisfy the increasing food demands, but will also reduce the demand for land needed for agricultural purposes; thereby helping to preserve the carbon stored in the soil surface which is usually released to the atmosphere when land is cleared. Nigeria, which ranks high on the global agricultural production index, wastes 40-60% of her production yearly as a result of poor Food Supply Chain (FSC).
The biggest treats to achieving our 1.5 degree target are world leaders and big industry players who have interests in fossil fuel production.
On June 1st 2017, the president of the United State, Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw America from the Paris Agreement and the IPCC in its recently released draft expressed fears that achieving the 1.5 degrees bracket is unlikely considering the “current emissions trajectories and current national pledges”. This combat approach of ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’ is totally unacceptable. If we are to succeed, everyone must be in the same boat. This is a battle for existence – our future, and there are only two sides; you are either with us or against us.