Environment

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Environmental challenges

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Environment

  1. 1. 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.
  2. 2. 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 diseases outbreak. 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
  3. 3. 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 society. 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 include:  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 the country. 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
  4. 4. 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 difference.

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