Let us save our world
By Bayo Fasunwon
All men rich or poor live together in a house called earth. If Biblical narrations of the origin of men are held sacrosanct, all creations are the products of the earth. The earth did not only give birth to all, but also provides the medium for procreation, sustenance, and continual existence of humankind and his benefactors. Given that all inhabitants of the earth are sustained by her produce, then it becomes imperative for us to acknowledge the fact that the continual existence of the earth makes living eternal, while her death is the real apocalypse of all mortals in the plants and animal kingdoms. However, the existence of the earth depends largely on the activities of man. Unfortunately, man by his selfish attitude and greed has been killing the earth, softly and gradually.
Pollution is the careless and deliberate introduction of matter into the atmosphere, which causes or may cause detriment to the Earth’s ecological balance and may therefore lower the quality of life. Man have in the cause of industrialization have exponentially increased the production of goods and services thereby generating all manners of wastes that are injurious to the earth and mankind. These wastes have been released into waterways, gases into the atmosphere, solid wastes into the ground and chemicals have been disposed carelessly thereby causing toxicity in the atmosphere.
In Nigeria today, plastics have formed the larger part of solid wastes. These plastics are used to package water, drugs, and act as affordable bags during shopping. However, most of these plastics find their ways on the streets and (in several communities), the waterways. The plastics retain water, which promotes the breeding ground for mosquitoes thereby contributing as host to the most deadly disease in the world – Malaria. Those in the waterways often block the channels of water (either drainages or streams), and these therefore pave way to erosions and floods in the cities and villages. The attendant results are the loss of lives and properties. In addition to this, the growth of water hyacinth, water poisoning, extermination of aquatic life and floating aquatic vegetation have been traced to the accumulation of wastes on streams and rivers.
Aside these, research has shown that water pollution causes health hazard and death of humans, aquatic life and grossly affects the growth and production processes of crops, thereby promoting the onset of famine. In addition to these, lack of disposal mechanic has contributed to solid waste pollution in Nigeria. Human wastes (faeces) are being disposed anyhow in cities and villages in Nigeria. Also, untreated metals, batteries, e-wastes are often left in open dumps, thereby contributing to the hazardous state of the Earth.
The activities of these wastes have been found to contribute to the escalation in air pollution, aside the gas flaring, release of carbon monoxide and the release of other dangerous gases into the atmosphere. Air pollutants have been identified as causal agents of Cancer, cardiovascular diseases, premature death, and asthma, irritations of the ears, mouth, nose, and throat; reduced lung functioning, respiratory diseases, disruption of endocrine and reduced energy levels in Homo sapiens. Polluted water also produces diseases such as Amoebaisis, hookworm, multiple Sclerosis, damage to the nervous system, rashes, deformation of fetus, liver and kidney damage and diarrhea, amongst several others.
The polluted water often finds its ways to the soil and mingles with the solid wastes dumped or buried on sites, and these lead to soil pollution. Soil pollution affects plants, causes cancer, leukemia, developmental damages to the brain, neuromuscular damages, and depression of the central nervous system, food poison, and increase in mortality rate.
Apart from pollutions to the atmosphere, we have also contributed to the installment death of the earth by deforestations and indiscrimate grazing. The trees are natural windbreakers, and contribute to the fertility of the earth by their leave droppings. Besides, their roots hold the earth, making it firm and like the grasses prevent high rate of water percolation and leaching orchestrated by running water. The foliage also act as a shade to the soil and man, thereby providing cover against the excessive activities of the Sun (due to depletion of the Ozone layer) and in most cases reduce the outbreaks of Sun stroke. The indiscriminate felling of trees without replacements however opens the earth to these hazards. In addition, the indiscriminate grazing of livestock diminishes the grass vegetation, making the earth bare, thus promotes desertification, and increases desert encroachment. Besides the activities of hooves of the animals on the earth surface, hardens the soil, and promotes erosion and loss of nutrients. This desertification is the major factor behind the exodus of the cattle breeders from the North to the South, and in its wake, leaving many dead due to Farmers/Herdsmen clashes.
Different calls have been made that plastics should be banned. However, I differ from this point of view. Whatever is manufactured to replace plastics would also contribute to pollution. Rather than banning, every geo-political zone must be encouraged to have recycling industries that can transform wastes to wealth. Most wastes generated by man are toxic in their present state. However, when processed and repackaged, they become assets that would help in the healthy existence of mankind and the earth. The innovative use and transformation of waste would not only create a cleaner environmental but would also generate source of income to individuals and revenues to the government. Recycling is not only limited to plastics. It goes for e-wastes, metals, food, and wears. Governments must think out of the box, beyond waste eradication, to waste transformation, and the earth would be better for it.
Stricter regulations, void of corruption should be implemented to prevent industrial wastes from factories into the land, air, and water. Every industry in Nigeria must have a blueprint for waste recycling or disposals, which must not be injurious to man. In this vein, it is high time government enforces the gas flaring prohibition act. Many resources are lost through the careless handling of wastes. Many of these wastes only need to be harnessed and the earth and country would be better for it.
All Nigerians must imbibe the culture of proper waste disposal, and the conscious disdain for any form of pollution. The war against pollution must be taken to schools and colleges, in order to instill in the youths and upcoming generation the need to preserve the earth by deliberate anti pollution activities. Furthermore, tree planting and the designation of certain areas for green vegetation must be embarked upon by the Federal Government, as a national policy. In this vein, indiscriminate deforestation must be prohibited and ranching must be promoted over and against nomadic livestock breeding.
Finally, it is high time Government declares a state of emergence on the supply of potable water to every household in Nigeria. Centrally treated and distributed water would reduce health challenges as well as prevent indiscriminate digging of wells and patronage of plastic packaged water. Many Nigerians patronize ‘pure and bottled’ water due to the non-availability of potable drinking water. If taps of water are available and accessible then the patronage of sealed water would greatly reduce thereby reducing the plastic waste generated.
The earth and all that is in it is the gift of God to man, all hands must be on deck to heal the world. Earth pollution poses a great danger to it and the lives that depend on it. The plants take their food from the earth so, Nigerians must develop a conscious effort at disease eradication through the adoption of a healing mentality towards the Earth. We must remember that a healthy Earth would sustain a healthy people, and the sick Earth would produce sick people. Together, let us join hands and heal the Earth.
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