World Environment Day urges for green cities and plan for the planet

Jun 05, 2005 02:00 AM

The World Environment Day (WED), commemorated each year on 5th June is one of the principal vehicles which the United Nations (UN) stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment to enhance private, corporate and political attention and action.
The theme for 2005 World Environment Day is " Green Cities" and the slogan "Plan for the Planet".

The aim of the theme is to give a human face to environmental issues, empower people to become active agents to sustainable and equitable development, promote understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues and advocate partnership among nations and people to enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.
A critical analysis of this year's theme will gladden the heart of anyone who has the interest of his environment at heart. But, the problem which many nations of the world including the advanced countries face on issues that has to do with the environment, continue to increase on daily basis.

For instance, anthropogenic environmental problems which are man made environmental problems and caused by land use patterns and the activities of man. Anthropogenic problems include land degradation (decline in soil fertility), soil erosion (gully), flooding, solid and liquid urban wastes, water, land and air pollution, deforestation/loss of biodiversity as well as acid rain among others.
Natural environmental problems like water erosion and desertification can be attributed to the terrain configuration, climate and the nature of the soil cover.

Another major environmental problem worthy to be mentioned is pollution. Pollution, is the process of over loading the earth's ecosystems with damaging materials or waste energy, which has grown from a local nuisance to a global menace. The collection, disposal and management of solid waste appears to defy any national solution with indiscrimate dumping of wastes on streets and streams.
Many markets, particularly urban food markets have become veritable slums.They are dirty and unsightly, with heaps of refuse scattered over them; inaccessible and lacking basic infrastructural facilities.

In Nigeria, one of the most dreadful consequences of urbanisation is the problem of waste (industrial, domestic, etc.) management.
The environment, social and public health effects of poorly managed waste system are numerous. These include: pollution of air by smog, especially where wastes are burnt openly as practiced in most Nigerian cities and communities; the flooding of water ways as witnessed in the Ibadan Ogunpa river flooding of August, 1980; contamination of ground water with land fills which have not been properly constructed, the obstruction of free flow of traffic when refuse is dumped unto water ways, the prolific breeding of cockroaches and mosquitoes which can transmit malaria fever, yellow fever, mosquito borne encephalitis and filariasis, the production of noxious, unsavoury and offensive odours which can cause nausea, and the proliferation of rats and rodents which can transmit typhoid fever, rabbis and other infectious disease.

Another angle of pollution is industrial pollution which also is a major environmental problem in Nigeria. Nigeria has more than 5,000 registered and easily located industrial facilities and another 10,000 backyard small scale industries operating illegally within residential premises. In places like Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Port Harcourt etc., coloured, hot and heavy metal laden effluent especially those from textile firms, tannery and paints industries are discharged directly unto open drainage and water channels, constituting direct danger to down stream water users.
Gaseous and semi-gaseous wastes have also assumed alarming proportion in many parts of Nigeria. For instance, the ubiquitous internal combustion engine is a principal air pollution emitting immense tonnage of carbon dioxide (CO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxide etc.

The cement producing industries in Nigeria are particularly notorious, although they are few and their physical impact is restricted to a maximum radius of about 3 km. Air pollution also occurs in form of flaring of natural gas associated with petroleum exploration.
Statistics on crude oil production indicate that over 75 % of total gas produced in association with crude oil by all oil producing companies is still flared away in obvious disregard for the Nigeria’s 1979 Gas Reinfection Legislation. All these forms of pollution have serious implication on man, animal and the earth itself. For example, crude oil, one of the highly placed economic resources in Nigeria cannot be derived without spilling it. Recent FEPA's report shows a yearly spillage of about 20 mm gallons of other recyclable waste oil.

Oil spill also destroys the biodiversity of the delicate ecosystems of the animals and aquatic life have been lost forever as a result of oil spills in these areas. Crude oil is very toxic and the chemical dispersant used to clear up oil spills may become far more damaging to the aquatic environment.
Another major environmental problem comes from deforestation. The nations forest have been reduced and decimated by deforestation logging, prolonged cultivation, burning and over-grazing.

As the world marks yet another World Environmental Day (WED), all stakeholders starting from the government, the environmental protection agencies, environment activists, should intensify the campaign for environmentally sound development through over action, habits lifestyles and participation in nation building.
The aim of the theme for 2005 World Environment Day must be achieved because we derive our existence from a healthy environment.

Source: Vanguard
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