A climate disaster is upon us! Nearly a half of a million households in Nigeria are at risk after heavy rains caused flooding that has besieged 80 per cent of the country. The rainfall began in July and has poured through September, causing Nigeria’s two main rivers – the Niger and the Benue – to burst their banks. The resulting disaster is affecting 34 of the country’s 36 states and has caused 141 deaths and 265 injuries to date.
Nigeria’s population figure currently estimates over 200 million citizens, more than 70% of this population are living in urban areas, which are known to emit 75% of CO2 resulting from energy use. Nigeria is the largest importer of fossil fuel generators, the 2014 World Climate Change Vulnerability Index classified Nigeria as one of the 10 most climate-vulnerable countries, and Lagos as the 10th most vulnerable city in the world. According to the BUR, oil, natural gas, and biomass are the main sources of energy. Nigeria is the world’s third largest producer of bioenergy in the form of fuel wood, agricultural residues, and animal and forestry waste; the 2010 bioenergy share of total primary energy was over 80%. Nigeria’s annual deforestation rate is estimated at 4% for the period 2005 to 2010, higher than the Western and Central African average of 0.46% and among the highest in the world. As of 2016, forest area was only 7% of the total land area and virtually all primary forests in the country may have disappeared.
Chunk of wood on transportation: result of deforestation.
Series of debates continue to evolve among many people, and sometimes in the news, on whether global warming is real (some believe its a humbug), and weather humans are too insignificant to affect the global climate. It is understandable because at the face of weather events like hurricanes and floods, it’s very easy for us to feel insignificant and powerless in the face of such massive natural forces. How can humans influence this? Well, yes, we can, and we have! Far smaller organisms than us have had a significant impact. Evidently, we wouldn’t be breathing an oxygen-rich atmosphere were it not for the photosynthetic activity of plants over millions of years. As for humans, we can and have created deserts, made semi-desert more arid and the like by over-grazing of livestock, over-intensification of non-sustainable agricultural practices and deforestation.
It may seem ironic to think that the average Nigerian, living some 3,800 nautical miles away from the amazon is responsible for global catastrophes such as the amazon wildfire. And perhaps it is even more strange to think that an individual might affect the ecosystem by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of the food to eat, or in choosing one’s modes of transportation. But one way or another, we all contribute to global warming through the cumulative impact of our actions, and yet we may be doing so by inadvertence.
Statistics have shown that individuals are partly to be blamed. A recent report revealed that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions since 1988. Eminently, a mere 25 companies and state-owned entities were responsible for more than half of global industrial emissions in that same period. One may wonder: If just a few companies and countries are responsible for so much of global greenhouse gas emissions, then why are we in such a haste to lay blame on individuals for their consumption patterns?

By changing consumption patterns on a large scale we might be able to influence companies to change their production patterns to more sustainable methods. However, buying electric cars and more efficient lightbulbs or consuming less beef than normal are only a tiny drop, compared to the efforts required to lower and eventually stop CO2 emissions.
While addressing the congress on climate change, young climate activist Greta Thunberg insisted that we listen to the scientists, citing the IPCC special report on climate change as a point of reference. But it is not only the experts who share this view…. When compared to the environmental teachings of the Qur’an and the Bible, this sudden environmental awareness is rather late. Over 1400 years ago, the Quran contained a component of environmental education: Muslims were taught about their environment and urged to protect it and respect its different elements by all means possible. In the Islamic view, humans are seen as the major factor disturbing the natural balance of the universe.
“Evil has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of people have earned (by oppression and evil deeds), that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return.” (Qur’an 30:41)
Environmental pollution, which is tantamount to the disruption of the natural balance, is a major form of human corruption and mischief on earth. This verse is a clear warning from God to human kind (because of what the hands of people have earned). Air pollution, deforestation, pollution of the soil, seas and rivers, and all the resulting disasters on this earth are direct consequences of the actions of human beings. (Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done) This is a lesson from God, a warning showing us the results of our bad deeds reflected as the spread of diseases, famines floods, earthquakes and many other physical, economic and psychological hazards to human health. (in order that they may return.) this is the solution: to refer back to God’s law on earth, to protect all creatures and to take care of the whole environment.
God Uses the Earth to Teach Us
It is important, according to the Bible, to the study the Earth and the environment. The Bible says that knowledge of God and his works can be found in understanding plants and animals and the delicate web of life:
Job 12:7-10
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
God Asks Us to Take Care of His Creation
In the Bible, God commands man to be a steward of the environment. Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesy about the dire consequences that occur when man disobeys God and fails to take care of the Earth:
Jeremiah 2:7
“I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.”
Invest in renewable energy
Less than half of Nigeria’s population has access to grid-connected electricity. Electric power supply is inefficient and has limited industrial development. The 2015 power supply averaged 3.1gigawatts (GW), an amount estimated to be a third of demand. For a country that pays a reported N2.4bn per day in oil subsidy cost, these funds could be invested in renewable energy. In many parts of the world, solar PV is now cost competitive with or less costly than conventional power generation. In tandem with other renewables and enabled by better grids and energy storage, solar farms are ushering in the clean energy revolution.
Increase environmental awareness.
Most environmental programs focus on the continuum of forming personal devotion to preserving the sustainability of our planet. The social media, local radio and others can play a vital role in the fight to save the planet, more people need to be aware of the dangers ahead and the consequences of misusing the environment. Reports from environmental agencies have to be reviewed to develop a sense of empathy to earth among the general public.
More youths action.
Now more than ever, youths all over the world are engaging in local actions to combat climate change. However, changes in behaviors and attitudes cannot be achieved without incorporation of the youth into practices that develop and engage young minds into the life of surrounding areas. Local humanitarian organizations formed by youths need to be fully supported by world organizations. Youth organizations such as Panacea Foundation, my Environments is mine Initiative and Bolasolv are doing a lot to aid with the global goals.
Where we are heading is only the way of destruction and of extinction. To live we must respect the world, the trees, the plants, the animals, the rivers and even the very earth itself. We must plant more trees than we cut down. We need a healthy environment on our planet, and its responsibility is the duty of each one of us. Funding agencies need to provide grants to and focus more on local actions by youth organizations, especially in the global south. We really do need to change our approach to how we use petroleum. Now– while we still have “free” power available from fossil fuels– is the time to figure out what our long term energy supply will be. We have only a limited amount of resources and time to figure out what our more permanent and reliable energy sources will be.

About the writer:
Hadi Hadi Mustapha is the Co-founder of Panacea Charity Foundation.


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