ENVIRONMENT: The Relation between Man and his Environment
Scholars, scientists and religion have over the years come up with different
theories of the evolution and creation of life and nature. Although different
evidences havepointed to the fact that we as human beings live on an egg shaped
(sphere) planet that dates back to more than two thousand years old. This planet
is called the Earth, and it is the only place known to harbor life, and the “home” of
human beings. About 71% of Earth’s surfaceis covered by water, which is
essential to life. The rest is land, mostly in the formof continents that riseabove
the oceans. The Earth’s surfaceis surrounded by a layer of gases known as the
atmosphere, which extends upward fromthe surface, slowly thinning out into the
sky. Below the surfaceis a hot interior of rocky material and two core layers
composed of metals in solid and liquid form.
The human environmentas we know it is the naturalworld in which people,
animals and plants live in. An environmentalso involves the conditions that affect
the behavior and development of a person or thing; the physicalconditions that
we as human beings exist in. Fromthese definitions of an environmentwe can
deduce that the earth is the environmentthat produces all the relevant natural
resources needed for sustaining human life. The environment also contains all of
the external factors affecting humans, animals and plants. These factors may be
other living organism(Biotic factors) or non living variables (Abiotic factors), such
as temperature, rainfall, day length, wind and ocean currents) the interactions of
organisms with biotic and abiotic factors forms an Ecosystem. Even minutes
changes in any one factor in an ecosystemcan influence whether or not a
particular person, animals or plant species will be successfulin the environment.
For example, lack of rain in a particular environment can cause poor growth and
vegetation of plants, which in turn reduces the production of food for human
consumption. Human beings live in an earthly environment that has a life of its
own based on the systematic structureof the ecosystem. In this casethe physical
environmentof the earth can sustain its ecosystemand development depending
on how people protect and treat the ecology of their environment.
In 1992 theUnited Nations Conferenceon Environment and development was
held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Popularly known as the Earth summit, this meeting
was the largest gathering of world leaders in history. Theconference produced
two major treaties. The firstwas an agreement for nations to voluntarily reduce
emission of gases leading to global warming (measurableincreases in the average
temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and landmasses) and the second
was a pact on biodiversity (sumof all the different species of animals, plants and
microbial organisms living on earth and the variety of habitats in which they live)
requiring countries to develop plans to protect endangered species and habitats.
The reason for the UN conference was as a resultof devastating climate changes
that had started affecting the earth’s environment. Fromthe year 2000 to 2010
alone, the earth has experienced many natural disasters including major
earthquakes, flooding, droughts, air and water pollution and even uncontrolled
Apart fromnaturally unexplainable causes, the human attitude to his/her
immediate environment also has a major contribution to someof these
environmental changes. The human contribution to negative environmental
changes ranges from:
1. Incompetentsurveying and landscaping of an area before construction of
roads and buildings.
2. Poor or no drainagesystems in developing communities.
3. Contamination of water bodies (rivers, streams, lakes, Ocean) through
the deposition of human and industrial waste.
4. Poor sanitation exercises in and around living habitats.
5. Negligence to environmental hazard warnings by ignorantindividuals.
These are justsome few contributions of the human society towards negative
environmental changes. We need to understand that the present condition of our
environmentis as a result of years of negligence and decay. For example, the
Nigerian governmenthas over the years showed low commitment to permanently
solving the effects of oil spillage in the Niger delta region of the country. Under
normal circumstances thegovernment sincefinding oil resources in the 1960’s
should have put in place concrete and lasting measures to control the effect of oil
drilling on agricultural land and human habitation. Desertification is also a
problem in Nigeria, made worseby massivewater impoundmentand irrigation
schemes. Uncontrolled grazing and livestock migration put tremendous pressure
on the environment in some areas. Other environment threats include poaching
(to catch animals illegally) and settlement within protected areas, bushfires,
increasing demand for fuel wood and timber, road expansion and extraction
activities. The massivemigration of people fromruralto urban areas is also a
major contribution to bad environmentalchanges as a whole in the Nigerian
The earth possesses many differentand various mineral resources that are all
essential to the human being. Everything we see and use in life is all products of
raw materials contained in the earth’s crustor environment. Fromthe food we
eat, to the cloths we wear and even the technologies we use; all these are
products of raw materials and natural mineral resources fromour earthly
environment. Itis good to note here that every geographical region of a country
on this planet earth possesses oneor more natural resources of its own. The
problem in this case is that people tend to focus more on particular earth
resources than others because of the relevance in the society at that particular
period. It is the neglect of someminor mineral resources by indigenes of one
region that prompts them to causeunnecessarily conflicts with another region
because of the latter’s major mineral resources. Examples of such situations
The United States and Iraq war over oil resources of Iraq.
The civil war in Nigeria over the oil in the Niger delta region.
The Guerrilla wars againstthe Sierra Leone Governmentover diamonds in
Natural mineral resources that are controlled and managed competently will
always produceprogressivedevelopmentin any community, region or society.
Most times it is the envy, greed and selfishness of a few people that results to the
improper and unbalanced useof these mineral resources. For examplerecord and
research shows thatAfricahas the largest possession of natural resources known
to man. Itis also on record that the discovery of these resources increased the
rate and level of internal conflicts in African local societies. Itmay sound
impossible, but the only way to reducecommunity conflicts in any society is for
every community to acknowledgetheir own naturalresources and work together
as a community to make the best out of it. People need to learn to place value on
the little things around them because it is better to live on your little possession
than to die for something that does not legally belong to you. Nature has given us
every reason to live life productively, buteverything depends on if we are ready
to follow the rules of naturein becoming relevant and naturally productive in life.
In conclusion we mustunderstand that the earth responds to the actions of the
human beings living on it. Let us note that our earthly environmentbegan
decaying when people started exploiting its natural resources withoutcontrol and
proper management. The selfish exploitation of these resources which is meant
for the development of all is the major causeof recent war, disease outbreaks,
underdevelopment of nation states and even the current global warming of the
earth. Our responsibility to the proper development of the general environment is
to acknowledgeour immediate community as the primary sourceof our
livelihood and to take steps to competently develop it.
Easy achievements are never valued, and what is not valued will not last.
It is not what you have but what you do with what you have that makes all the