Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sea surges could uproot millions in Nigeria megacity

Reuters: Millions of people in Nigeria could be displaced by rising sea levels in the next half century, as ocean surges swamp some of Africa's most expensive real estate and its poorest slums, scientists say. Africa's most populous nation, stretching from the southern fringe of the Sahara to the Gulf of Guinea, could come under triple attack from climate change as the desert encroaches on its northern pastures, rainfall erodes farmland in its eastern Niger Delta, and the Atlantic Ocean floods its southern coast.

But the greatest concern is the sprawling commercial capital Lagos, one of the fastest growing cities in the world, spread over creeks and lagoons and dangerously close to sea level. "Lagos is a megacity with 15 million people, half of them at two metres (6 ft) above sea level, and that puts them at risk as hardly any other big city in the world," Stefan Cramer, Nigeria director of Germany's Heinrich Boll Foundation think-tank and an adviser to the Nigerian government on climate change, said.

Speaking at the launch this week of a Nigerian documentary on climate change, Cramer said most scientists predicted sea levels would rise by one metre over the next 50 years or so. "In 50 years with a one-metre sea level rise, two million, three million people would be homeless ... By the end of the century we would have two metres and by that stage Lagos is gone as we know it," he told Reuters in an interview.

…"We may lose quite a good percentage of Lagos ... and probably the whole of Bayelsa," said Emmanuel Obot, executive director of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. "If that happens, the refugee problem will be so massive that I don't think Nigeria is ready," he said.

Sand on the beach, shot by Manfred Morgner (ka-em-zwei-ein), Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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