Enwere Dike , Ngozi Dike (2018). Did Global Warming and Climate Change Cause the Degradation of Lake Chad, Africa's Most Important 'Ecological Catastrophe'?. Review of Environment and Earth Sciences, 5(2): 15-41. DOI: 10.18488/journal.80.2018.52.15.41
This paper explores six hypotheses/theories on Lake Chad’s degradation: i) natural climate variation; ii) anthropogenic climate change compounded the effects of the Sahel drought; iii) unregulated exploitation of Lake Chad’s hydrologic system overdrew the regenerative potential of the lake system; iv) high rates of deforestation in the tropical rain forest belt of West-Central Africa shifted the rain belt Southwards; v) pressure from rapidly expanding human and livestock populations exceeded the carrying potential of the Lake Chad ecosystem; and vi) anthropogenic aerosol emissions in the northern hemisphere shifted the tropical rain-belt southwards. The evidence shows that there is no single-cause explanation for Lake Chad’s degradation; rather the influence of global warming and climate change compounded those from pre-existing drought conditions and non-climate factors e.g unregulated exploitation of Lake Chad’s hydrologic system to degrade the lake.
The paper contributes to the existing literature by exploring six hypotheses/theories to show that the influence of global warming and climate change on ecosystems can be compounded by non-climate variables. The degradation of Lake Chad illustrates vividly the interaction between the climate factors and non-factors in eco-system degradation.