Greg Odogwu

The Punch - - MY NEWS.COM -

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

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