Lagos is paying for cutting trees and here’s the cost

The year 2019 was about the hottest ever recorded globally, while November 2019 was one of the hottest months in Lagos.

This was especially remarkable because the intense heat between the months of March to April is over, the torrential rains of June to September make way for the cool and dry harmattan breeze blowing from the Sahara. Yet, the air remains stale, the intense heat impeded the function of air conditioning units.

A healthy release of oxygen into to the atmosphere cooling our surroundings and making the air breathable, seemed to disappear. We inhale oxygen (O2) exhaling carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere this CO2 is absorbed by the trees which recycle it and release oxygen back into the air making it fresh again.

Basic science it seems but the state actions cutting trees defies logic especially in an era of global warming and heightened conversations about Climate change world over.

Mr Oladapo Soneye, a Head communications of the Lekki Conservation Center (LCC) blames this on the “unsustainable development” of Lagos. Where green areas that should absorb carbon increase in the atmosphere from rapid industrialization have been wiped out.

He points out that most of the estates built around the Lagos Conservation Center have caused the Center to be submerged anytime there’s rainfall causing flooding, “a large mass of the natural swamp was sand-filled causing the centre to be lower than the surrounding since there was no good drainage, the water in the centre destroys the species in the reserve. Nothing absorbs the carbon generated from cars”.

Not much is said about the degree of air pollution in Lagos, a state with over 5 million cars and 200,000 commercial vehicles on the roads, Lagos records a daily average of 227 vehicles per kilometre.

Globally, the transport sector accounts for 23 per cent of energy-related CO2 emissions, second behind electricity and heat generation, with transport-related emissions set to rise from 23 per cent to about 33 per cent by 2050.

Yet, the increase in CO2 is not the only reason for the waning fresh air in Lagos. The inability for the state to ensure stable power supply leaves Lagosians dependent on either diesel or petrol-fueled generators.

According to the latest World Health Organisation data published in 2018, life expectancy in Nigeria is: Male 54.7, female 55.7 and total life expectancy is 55.2 which gives Nigeria a World Life Expectancy ranking of 178.

These generators emit poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) into the atmosphere. Desmond Majekodunmi, an environmentalist and chairman of Lagos State Urban Forest and Animal Shelter Initiative (LUFASI) says that the particulates that come from burning diesel very small inhaled into the lungs and bronchial system causing terrible damage.

According to Majekodunmi, “people are dying because of inhaling diesel particulates which WHO estimates at 2-4 million deaths every year because of pollution in cities.

Although, there is no data on generator ownership in Nigeria, a 2019 presentation by Dalberg, a global policy and advisory firm, claims that households own and operate an estimated 22 million small gasoline generators, while, businesses and individuals spend about $12 billion a year- twice the country’s annual infrastructure budget- fueling these generators, filling the air with fossil waste and noise pollution.

According to the Atmosphere and Climate Journal, Research Gate, that examined exposure to air pollution caused by households’ wood burning of cooking, generating sets and vehicle emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) poisonous gas in the most populated urban city of Lagos Southwestern part of Nigeria.

The research findings reveal that “many families including children and pregnant women; infant babies and individuals lost their lives due to poor quality air control policies, and inefficient control of air pollution caused by this deadly gas. Many are suffering with heart-related diseases as a result of CO poisoning and Government is not showing serious concern in this part of the world”.

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