Ocean surge: Experts raise alarm, urge action to protect coastal settlements

By Tunde Alao   |   18 January 2015   |   11:00 pm  

ETI-OSA-19-01-15--NIGERIA, particularly settlements around the nation’s coastal line, especially, Eti-Osa communities in Lagos risk total submerge, except pragmatic steps are taken by all stakeholders to avert the impending danger of extinction.

  The alarm formed the fulcrum of discussion at the 1st Annual Public lecture, organised Eti-Osa Heritage Organisation, an indigenous residents of Eti-Osa Local government of Lagos state. 

 The public lecture, held at Orchid Hotel, IKota, Eti-Osa, titled: “Climate Change, Ocean surge and Sustainable Development in Nigeria”, had as speakers, a foremost environmentalist and member, Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF), Dr. Desmond Majekodunmi, and Professor S. Iyiola Oni, Head, Department of Geography, University of Lagos.

  In his presentation, represented by Dr. Feyisetan O. Oni, of the Department of Geography, University of Lagos, in his paper titled “Emerging Research and Trends on Ocean Surge in the Developing Countries: Case of Eti-Osa Area of Lagos”, while noting that the climate of the earth has undergone changes many times in the course of history, added that such a rise could threaten or cause the total extinction of living species, coupled with a dramatic alteration of the ecological balance in the biomes of the world.

 Oni listed causes of climate change, especially, in Nigeria including burning of fuels in power stations and home generators; and exhaust emissions from modes of transport, as well as ‘third-hand’ imported transport facilities ‘tokunbos’, among others.

Highlighting the possible consequences of climate change, he added that with global temperatures rising, water in the seas and oceans continue to expand with the resulting rise in sea levels.

  “Polar ice caps are already melting at an alarming rate, significant shift has been observed in the isoclines, and ecosystems at all levels may be subjected to such a rapid change in the coastal areas of Nigeria that we may not have the time to adjust”, he counseled. 

  With specific reference to Lagos, he said that recent studies suggest that the expected climate change in Lagos State may include a temperature increase of 0.04 degrees Celsius per year from now until the 2046-2065 period, with areas near the coast expected to warm up at a slower rate than elsewhere.

“Besides, a wetter climate, with the annual rainfall increasing by about 15cm and a rainy season that will be longer by up to two weeks by 2046-2065, an increase in the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events, such as extreme heat days (with the temperature exceeding 38 degrees Celsius), with more violent tropical storms are expected”, said Oni, adding that sea level will rise by about 3.1mm per year as a result of increasing global temperatures, and the concomitant thermal expansion of water and melting of polar ice caps.

 Thus, the projected sea level rise in the coastal areas of Lagos State could be more than 1m by 2100, resulting in ample loss of land to the sea.

  The impacts of climate change are being felt in every sector of Lagos State, including agriculture and food security; water resources; wetlands and freshwater ecosystems; coastal zone and marine eco-systems; land use, forestry and biodiversity; energy; transportation; industry and commerce; financial services; human settlements and health; and disaster management 

  These impacts include: loss of land to the sea; loss of livelihoods; loss of physical infrastructure (transportation, industrial, energy, water storage/supply; real estate; displacement of settlements and population; loss of ecosystems and biodiversity; pollution of surface water and groundwater; increased frequency and magnitude of climate-related disasters and increased risk of water-borne diseases.

   However, to avert the looming disaster, he recommended the need for protection that could mean building dykes; relocating homes or businesses, or demarcating certain zones as off-limits for development; accommodating, that could involve establishing stronger building codes, or strengthening early warning systems.

  Desmond Majekodunmi, in his paper titled: “Climate Change, Ocean Surge and Sustainable Development in Nigeria”, reiterated that nature has endowed Nigeria with a tremendous abundance of resources that are highly sought after by the modern world.

These include oil, gas, bitumen, gold, coal, tantalite, copper, vast agricultural potentials, the list is almost endless, include immense human resources. Based on this reality, Majekodunmi admitted that one could conclude that Nigeria is indeed, amongst the most blessed nations on this earth. 

“As if this were not enough, our geographic location and general terrain, ensured that we were free from natural disasters. No earthquakes, tsunamis or hurricanes were ever recorded. Our only disasters being man made ones, occasioned usually by bad governance and irresponsible, myopic leadership”. 

   According to him, there are no major natural disasters until 2012, when there were terrible floods.   

  Quite some time before the floods the meteorological department had warned us about the possibility of severe flooding brought about by an unusually high volume of rain falling over a short period of time. The alarm bells should have started ringing then, because this scenario is one of the classic symptoms of climate change. Another symptom of climate change is ocean rise caused by melting of the polar ice caps and expansion of the ocean waters through thermal induction. Yet another symptom is more virulent offshore storms giving rise to hurricane force winds. All these symptoms have started to manifest themselves in different parts of the world and are providing the practical proof positive of the horrific realities of climate change, brought about by anthropogenic induced global warming, caused mainly through the unabated release of greenhouse gasses, particularly CO2 and methane, into the atmosphere.

 In relation to Lagos and sustainable development in Nigeria, Majekodunmi was of the view that there can be no development, sustainable or otherwise, when it is about struggling to survive in a devastated environment.

  Earlier in his opening remark, the Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Abiodun Tobun, while extolling physical development in Lagos, especially, in Eti-Osa axis, noted that negative impacts of such development include the threats posed by ocean surge.

Tobun, Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Lagos State House of Assembly, said activities inherent in sand mining in the axis are causing serious depletion on the shoreline. Besides, he said that physical development that is concentrated in Eti-Osa, Lekki and Epe allows cutting of trees, thus, subjecting the area to the vagaries of climate change effects.

“Indiscriminate cutting of trees, either to create space for site development, or using them for other purposes has resulted into a situation whereby the oxygen needed is being affected.

 In his address, President, Eti-Osa Heritage Organisation, Mr. Adewale Sanni, said the public lecture was borne out of concern over serious threats that ocean surge constitutes to the axis.

 Speaking on the Eko Atlantic City, Sanni, a lawyer, is of the view that if the purpose of the project is to create a buffer zone to protect the shoreline, it should not be limited to Victoria Island, but that similar barrier against the ocean surge should be extended to Eti-Osa. 

 “As a riverine local government area, Eti-Osa remains one of the most vulnerable areas to ocean surge in Lagos State. This high-risk status of the LGA was vindicated not too long ago when the ocean overflew its boundaries and affected a number of our towns and villages in Eti-Osa. 

“This unique environmental status and the psychological impact left by these incidents have over the years raised the question of whether Eti-Osa will not also experience the tsunami going on in many parts of the world including the developed capitalist nations. This existential threat no doubt calls for immediate and concerted actions by all tiers of government as well as all members of the community. 

“It is for this reason that we make the clarion call to all concern especially the state and federal governments to please do all necessary to save our community before it sinks”, Sanni pleaded.



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