IT is happening! For those that are still waiting for 2030 to start seeing accelerated impacts of climate change, they have the movie now, early release. Nigeria has swapped its climate with Europe, it seems. While Norway just recorded its hottest January at 19 degrees Celsius, we are swathed by a very cold new year, going as low as 7 degrees in a place like Jos, Plateau State.
Australia is groaning under the heavy thrashing of what used to be a historically seasonal bushfire. This time around, the fire is something else. It has eaten up more than 5 million hectares of land, with thousands of living quarters, and dozens of human lives obliterated, as it makes its ferocious sortie across the Southern part of the country.
The fire is as high as 200 feet, with heat so intense that all flora and fauna are turned to ashes in its wake. Half a billion animals are already dead, with the country’s famous koala on the verge of a fire-induced extinction. The smoke from the moving inferno has almost totally blotted out the sky even in safe zones like the big city and the capital, Sidney and Canberra. The whole scene is so apocalyptic that concerned global citizens have opened a relief fund-raiser for the country’s most impacted.
On the face of it, there is nothing to compare between the ecological disaster in Australia and the cold wave we are presently witnessing in some parts of Nigeria. The Australian bushfire is way too disastrous even when weighed against the world’s worst forest fires. To fully grasp the damage, we could compare it with the Amazon forest fire and the California fire of 2019. Amazon burnt about 900,000 hectares of forest land; while California had about 1.8 million hectares scorched. The Australian fire has blazed over more five million hectares, and still burning.
Nevertheless, when viewed from a longterm perspective, the Nigerian cold is more lethal than the Australian fire. To start with, what we are witnessing in Nigeria today is quite strange, unlike in Australia where the country is used to the annual bushfires. They have been experiencing it right from medieval times, thousands of years ago, which is why some indigenous Australians are still blaming their government for not working with them to use the methods their ancestors adopted to survive the perennial blaze. To be sure, the ecosystem of the country has so evolved with bushfires to the extent that some plant species need the fire incidents to survive; while others have developed natural fire survival characteristics like epicormic shoots.
Moreover, Australia is a developed country with the ultra-modern infrastructure to fight fire, and the resources to help its citizens relocate to safer grounds and adapt to ecological tragedies. In addition, the citizens on their own can boast of requisite capacity to understand issues relating to weather and climate. They also enjoy unmitigated access to information, and are equipped with the ability to interpret early warning signals.
But in Nigeria, we are still struggling to take care of bare necessities. And because we are not used to it by any standard, the cold caught us unprepared. We are used to our hot climate, and have over the years snugly adapted to it. The clothes we put on, the houses we live in, the roads we move on, indeed everything about us, is about surviving in a hot climate. Our politics, religion, and recreation are all planned around living the outdoor life under a hot sky. Religious prayers (Islamic) are done in the open mosques; evangelistic crusades (Christian) are conducted round the year with the only consideration being the rains. The average Almajiri in the North is dressed