Opinion: Staring Down Pollution, a Catalyst to Combating Climate Change. By Amusa Temitope Victor
In the running of a community in a hitch-free way, everyone has a role regardless of the nature of jobs they do: Physicians, Nurses, Teachers, Street Cleaners, Plumbers, Farmers, Traders all have very important roles they play. In like manner, everything existing in nature each has a role in ensuring a smooth running of Nature.
The major constituents of our environment are: water, land, and air. These constituents are endowments which are gratifying so much that the way nature co-ordinates its activities are matchless. One seldom wonders at the way all that exists in nature are designed to complement one another. The regulations surrounding how life is sustained in all are simply mind-blowing. Ecological balance is the ability of natural conditions of the earth; and its inhabitants (animals and plants), to remain stable on their own through variations over time which can be described as the coexistence of organisms and their environment in a harmonious manner. This naturally existing balance is threatened by human activities, the rate of destruction has out weighted the rate of construction, for example, the number of trees felled daily is much more than the amount planted. The volume of Carbon daily released to the atmosphere exceeds the volume of oxygen generated daily. It is evident that our planet now survives on a reserve bank of resources that nature is endowed with. How long these reserve banks of endowed nature's resources will sustain the planet is a question left for all to answer.
A major problem we confront daily as a result of human activity is pollution, the introduction of unwanted constituents or impurities into the environment that causes an adverse change and truncates the natural existing balance of nature. All the constituents of the environment are affected by pollution, from water to land and even air, no part of the environment is immune as it, therefore, goes to show what risk the activities of man poses to the three major aspects of the planet.
The cost of civilization has always been pollution. Air pollution dates as far back as when men lit fires in caves and rock grooves, even the burning of natureís existing fuels: coals and woods, as well as the concentrated presence of pre-industrial transportation animals like donkeys, camels, and horses in certain areas, made the evolving cities a store bank of pollution.
On the front burner of most alarming human activity is the industrial revolution which gave rise to environmental pollution at a very troubling rate. The excesses of carbon emissions released by fossil fuel burning industries which need fuel to power their turbines is a disaster actively waiting to happen. The once fresh air is now filled with tiny soot particles which are now choking to breathe in, no thanks to the emergence of giant industries which only rely on fossil fuels for their operation and are not conscious of the effects of these carbon emissions on the ecological balance of the planet.
The waste effluents from big factories are channeled into rivers truncating water salinity and the dissolved oxygen levels, throwing marine life off balance and resulting to killing fishes and other marine creatures. Regrettably, these rivers flow through rural settlements which lack access to safe drinking water. Many community members consume these polluted waters and stand the risk of the breakout of epidemics like Cholera and other waterborne diseases. Plastics are designed to last for a very long time, it takes an average of 500 years for plastics to decompose. According to World Bank Urban Development Series Knowledge Paper, What-a-Waste published in 2012. It is estimated that world plastics consumption will grow by 1.9 % yearly (4.86 million tons) by 2025. Now at 256.2 million tons for 2015 from 241.4 million tons in 2012.
Manís hunger for single use plastics is damning, from plastic water bottles to beverage bottles, plastic shopping bags to plastic water sachets, all are meant to make the life of man easy on the go, little do we understand that if the rate of land pollution owing to growing inorganic waste continues at the current pace, even man shall be choked out of his habitat by waste. Our steadily growing population has stressed the grossly inadequate waste management infrastructures put in place to manage urban waste. The management authorities are overwhelmed by waste generation as evident in the indiscriminate disposal of waste in major city centers in Nigeria. The populace cannot cope with the nuisance caused by having litters around their homes, the landfills are filled and no one wants any site around their homes. Some people result to burning of waste which eventually releases hazardous gases into the atmosphere some of which causes cancer and other deteriorating health conditions, others prefer to dump the waste in drainages when it rains leading to blockage of the drains and giving rise to pockets of dirty water ponds which in return serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. There has to be a quick intervention as regards waste management in the country, Climate change should be combated by staring down pollution, from North to South, East to West in Nigeria and indeed the world. Active steps should be taken to reduce pollution to the minimum, cleaner energy sources must be explored.
As recommended by Frances Beinecke, putting a tax on carbon could be an effective approach to curbing global warming pollution. Giant industries should pay more tax for burning more fuels, urban mass transit channels should be encouraged, fewer cars on our roads would translate to reduced carbon emissions from automobiles, electric cars should be considered as they seem to explore greener sources of energy, serious sanctions should be placed on industries without effluent treatment units, a more objective approach should be employed by Environmental Protection Agencies in monitoring and regulating the activities of industries as regards the environment.
Every manufacturer that uses plastic packing must be mandated to use materials which are easily recyclable and must be ready to take back their waste, consumers must also choose to live responsibly by reusing their shopping bags, upcycling their plastic bottles and recycling their plastic wastes. Proper waste disposal should be encouraged in emerging cities, climate actions should be advocated at cities level as they seem to be more efficient in combating climate change and its attendant consequences. By taking these conscious steps we would walk the talk as regards staring down pollution, the eco-balance of our planet will be set in recovery mode and our environment will be safe for all human and animals alike.
Amusa Temitope Victor is an Environmentalist, Social Entrepreneur and Zero-Waste Advocate. He is the Chief Executive Officer, Vicfold Recyclers- A Recycling Firm based in Ilorin Kwara State Nigeria, Which Promotes Incentive Motivated Recycling. (www.vicfoldrecyclers.com). He can be reached on +23408107454031 or firstname.lastname@example.org