WE ONLY HAVE ONE EARTH: MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES TODAY FOR TOMORROW

1.0 INTRODUCTION
Sometimes it is the small things we pay little or no attention to that wrecks the actual havoc, like when we dump that empty bottle of soda carelessly, when we refuse to service our vehicles and continue to make use of them regardless of the thick smoke the exhaust pipe emits into the atmosphere or even when we storm forests to cut down lots of trees for our own personal and selfish needs. A whole lot of our actions and sometimes inactions cause danger to the environment and it might just be safe to say that- we are our problem. In as much as there are nine planets, the earth remains the only planet human beings can live comfortably and survive in as the earth is just the right distance from the sun and has the right chemical ingredients for life, including water and carbon. Hence the pertinent question what change can man make in his relationship with the environment so as to sustain the earth? This essay answers this question as well as explores some of man’s activities that poses a threat to the environment.

2.0 JUST ONE EARTH
Ban Ki Moon rightly pointed out the exceptional nature of the earth when he asserted that “there can be no plan B because there is no planet B”. Flowing from the foregoing, it is believed that societies consisting of the interaction between man and his environment exists only on earth. The earth is the third planet from the sun and the only place known so far that is inhabited by living things due to it’s very hospitable temperature and mix of chemicals. Perhaps the most striking unique feature of earth is it’s vast oceans, which cover 70 per cent of the earth’s surface. Earth is the only world in our solar system with liquid water at it’s surface today. That earth hosts intelligent life, life capable of studying the galaxy around us makes it doubly unique. All these earth shares with no other planet. This affirms the credibility in “we only have one earth”. The earth as magnificent as it is however, is greatly affected by man’s activities.

3.0 HUMAN ACTIVITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
3.1 Deforestation
Deforestation causes several societal and environmental problems capable of making human existence unbearable. It involves the removal or clearing of forest areas by cutting down trees that is further converted to non-forest use. Trees are the oldest, reliable, extremely useful and widely used raw materials that play a crucial role in oxygen supply and absorption of greenhouse gases. Deforestation is a global problem which threatens environmental sustainability. It exerts adverse effect on the entire environment, the economy and the citizenry. It also disrupts the global water cycle.

3.2 Pollution
Pollution is one of the greatest of man’s activities that serves as a menace to the environment. From plastic pollution, to water pollution, to air pollution and a host of other ways man pollutes the environment.

3.3 Ozone depletion
Ozone depletion always holds an importance. The ozone layer is a protective shield to humans, animals, crops, aquatic life and the environment as well. Human activities and man-made substances play a major role in this depletion which is increasing day by day. Due to ozone depletion, life on earth is being affected which results to different consequences like destruction of crops and aquatic life. Thinning of this layer can lead to excessive absorption of ultraviolet radiations, UV radiations that could destroy organic matter. Human activities like industrial processes and man-made compounds are depleting the ozone layer excessively. These substances are CFS, halons, CCl4, CH3CCl3, hydrobromofluorocarbons amongst others.

4.0 THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR A BETTER ENVIRONMENT
4.1 Incorporate green building concepts
Materials such as sand, stone and timber are usually extracted in ways that can harm the soil, rivers and forests. Locally available and sustainable construction materials such as bamboo can be used as eco-friendly alternatives to chopping down forests for timber.

4.2 Organize community clean ups
There should be at least a day in a month where communities come together to tidy up the environment and make the surrounding eco-friendly. Community sanitation will go a long way in ensuring a habitable environment.

4.3 Abstinence from overfishing
Fishing is good. It is not just a source of livelihood but a source of protein as well. However, when we go over board by overfishing, it poses a great threat to the environment. Fishing activities should be reduced to the barest minimum so as to protect the environment.

4.4 Implementation of programs to protect the ozone layer
Effective programs should be in place to prevent people from carrying out activities that would release harmful substances. This would ensure responsibility and accountability in the use of such harmful substances. Environmental protection (ozone protection) policy 2020 in Western Australia is one of such programs and developing countries like Nigeria could take a clue from this.

4.5 Make use of public transportation
It is okay to show off the fact that you own the latest car, but not at the expense of a healthy environment. People should learn to make use of public transportation and even go by foot if it is a walking distance.

4.6 Legislation to curb indiscriminate cutting of trees
Laws should be put in place to guide the cutting of trees. People who cut trees indiscriminately should be held liable for such actions. Trees naturally release oxygen into the atmosphere which is an essential need of man and on that note, people should rather be encouraged to plant trees.

4.7 Waste management
Rather than being reckless with waste products, we should manage them and convert them to resources. For instance, plastics can be used as fuel, landfill, in energy generation and for making road. Basically, we should uphold the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle.

5.0 CONCLUSION
The best time to act was yesterday, the best we can do is today, but if we wait for tomorrow, it may just be too late. We should not live, doing only the things that appeals best to our comfort and individual interests, though frankly that’s just the way we like it. We have a responsibility to our environment. This planet and all the wonderful things nature provides, belongs to us all. But if we ourselves insist on squandering natural resources and generating mountains of toxic wastes, nobody else can make our problems miraculously disappear.

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Murtaza, Umer (2015), ‘Relationship Between Emissions of Human Activities and Ozone Layer
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https://www.space.com/5595-earth-special-compared-planets.html
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