Environment experts have advocated policies and investments supporting cleaner transportation systems, clean and renewable power and better waste management, to make the earth more habitable.
They made the call on the hills of the 2022 World Environment Day Celebration. The World Environment Day, celebrated annually on the fifth of June, has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach.
Led by the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, the global event is focusing on burning global environmental challenges, with a view to addressing them.
This year’s event hosted by Sweden has the theme “Only One Earth” which focuses on “living sustainably in harmony with nature”.
The earth has been devastated by serious environmental issues which include climate change, loss of biodiversities, the recent Covid19 pandemic, among others.
In Nigeria, reports have it that no region of the country is spared with regards to environmental issues and attendant consequence.
To save the earth from environmental collapse, the Federal Controller, Ministry of Environment, Lagos Zonal Office, Mrs Oluwatoyin Agbenla says, Nigeria must urgently embrace green and sustainable lifestyle in all sectors of the economy for the environment to continue to support lives.
“Not only to Nigeria and Nigerians ,but to the whole world, if we do not do anything about the way we destroy the earth that is sustaining us,that our existence depends on, by 2050 there will be no earth for us. We need to work on our energy consumption, we need to work on the way we load the environment with pollution,we need to do everything we do, be it development, money making sustainably. That is doing it to meet our needs without jeopadizing the future”.
“We can do something about the quality of air that we breathe on and that is why we are putting emphasis on letting people know sources of air pollution, impacts of air pollutionlution and how to mitigate air pollution”.
The Director General, Nigerian Conservation Foundation, NCF, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano while speaking on progress made in efforts at preserving the environment and what lies ahead in decades to come, explained that,
“There has been some significant progress in the last 50 years since the Stockholm Conference opened If we remember, some of the major highlights of that conference included the introduction of this whole concept of Sustainable Development, which made the principle that genuine development tests on three pillars-the environment, the economy and the social.
“Unless you balance those three, whatever progress you made cannot really be called real progress or development. It is almost like movement without motion. So thay was one of the major things that came out of the Stockholm Conference in 1972. And think, just the acceptance of that principle and the way it has been actualised and imbibed. Now, nobody questions the concept of Sustainable Development; anybody believes you have to have these three pillars balances.
“In 2000 , when the Millennium Development Goals were formed,there was a recommendation of that concept having the 3 pillars. So some of the sustainable development goals were addressing the economic, social and environmental needs. And much better when the sustainable development goals were formed, they balanced it even more. These whole idea of development resting on people, planet and prosperity,the 3Ps. So,there are really very tangible, excellent, laudable achievements that we can all applaud and be happy about.
“However,there are challenges. About a million species are on the brink of going extinct. That is an issue. And the pace of progress has been quite slow on addressing issues of biodiversity, controlling desertification and so on and so forth”
Encroaching desert, coastal erosion, flooding, land degradation are common phenomena threatening lives, means of livelihoods and fueling migration”, he added.
Air pollution is also a major headache and major cities like Lagos, Abuja, and Kano are reported to have air pollution that is over 4 times the acceptable range, according to an updated report by the World Health Organisation, WHO.
The organisation which stated that around 91% of the world’s population live in places where air quality levels exceeded recommended limits, identified air pollution as the 4th highest cause of death, trailing smoking, high blood pressure and food related ailments.
Prof. Nasiru Idris of the Department of Environmental Services, Nasarawa State University who notes that about 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year as a result of air pollution says living in harmony with nature should be a new way of life in the task of saving the earth.
“There is need for serious awareness for governments, industries, communities and individuals to come together to explore renewable energy options as we as green technology in order to improve the air quality of cities.
“About 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year, as a result of air pollution mainly in Africa and Asia, which Lagos is part of it. With lots of traffic congestion we have on ground,there is level ozone. It will change the air quality; it will have significant effect on the environment”.
Diseases like stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases are linked to emission of harmful gases and chemicals due to fossil fuel consumption, bush burning and others which accounts for an estimated 4.2 million deaths per year as reported by the WHO.
An environmentalist Dr. Desmond Majekodunmi renews his call for the massive planting of trees capable of reversing most environmental problems.
“What we can do now is to plant trees which is what absorbs the carbon dioxide to keep us alive. We have to come come to the realisation that this is a serious issue and we need to prevent the crisis from growing”.
Some Lagos residents also called for more efficient ways of managing wastes to enhance quality of lives and aesthetics of the surroundings.
“Excessive use of generating sets,open defecation ,indiscriminate disposal of refuse and others are among major problems facing the Masses especially here in Lagos”.
” When you gather your wastes,heap them on the road and they stay there and decompose, it becomes a problem. They will be releasing offensive odour and to pass through the place becomes a problem. In areas like Isolo, it is a common sight”.
“When you look at the health hazard, air pollution in Lagos is a very worrisome situation. Also, i see all of these as the alteration of the climate. Something is fundamentally wrong, weather pattern has changed, heat is too much and so many disease are breaking out frequently”.
The federal and some state governments have been acknowledged for making appreciative efforts in the environment sector; but respondents say there is still room for improvement and there is no better time than today to take the needed actions and make commitments towards redeeming the environment.
Innocent Onoh, writes from Lagos