Due to the dramatic rise in sea levels across the world, many people in Lagos wonder if the state will go underwater in the coming decades. While the rise in sea levels are becoming more alarming, this has always been a concern for residents of the state.
Just as an oil tanker steaming ahead at full speed cannot stop immediately, so the dramatic rise in sea levels will continue even if the world manages to slash greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030. Experts based in Germany warned about this in a study published on Monday. They published the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Emissions between 2015, when the Paris climate change accord was thrashed out, and 2030 would be enough to raise levels by eight centimetres (3.1 inches) by 2100. They would rise by 20 centimetres (7.9 inches) by 2300 in comparison with the reference period of 1986-2005.
In total, sea level may rise by at least a meter by 2300 in the extremely unlikely event that greenhouse gas emissions fall to zero in the next 11 years.
And that may be a conservative estimate. UN-backed scientists already predict an increase in water levels of between 26 cm and 77 cm by the end of this century alone.
A full quarter of that one-meter rise by 2030 will be due to emissions from China, the United States, the European Union, Russia and India in the preceding 40 years, the authors of the latest report concluded.
By comparison, oceans rose by around 20 cm in the 20th century.
The goal of the study, co-author Alexander Nauels of the Climate Analytics institute in Berlin told AFP, was to show that current emissions will have a clear effect on rising sea levels that will be felt over the next 200 years.
“We all focus on the 21st century,” he said. He also warned that “sometimes that can create the false impression that after the 21st century nothing else will happen.”
Sea level rise is due to a number of complex phenomena that can play out over extremely long time scales, making its study difficult. It is still unclear why Antarctic ice is melting more slowly than in Greenland.
“When you’re looking into the sea level rise problem, it’s a very slow and responding system,” said Nauels. “A centimetre doesn’t sound like much but it’s actually a lot.”
In a report published last year, experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said reducing the rise in sea level by 10 centimetres would save 10 million people in coastal areas from exposure to flooding, storm surges and other risks.
It is also worth noting that, on 2nd September 2018, The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) said Lagos and other coastal cities globally that are less than one metre above sea level could be submerged by 2050 if the surge continues.
As published by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), NCF’s Director-General, Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano, said in Lagos:
“The projection by scientists in the United Nations who are the authority in climate change effects, after extensive studies, says there is the likelihood of the world’s ocean rising by one meter between 2030 and 2050. Hence, any city less than one metre above sea level is under threat and Lagos is part of the many others.”