Our daily life activities are a compromise of our environment. Each day, each month, and each year, the problem with the environment gets worse. Quite unfortunately, because the environment is a problem that is less visible than other social problems, we are less likely to realize its effect. Hence, we are less likely to feel a sense of urgency about this problem than with other problems we see more visibly. At the wake of the third decade of the 21st century, the environmental challenges we have ahead of the globe have become many. Though the world has proffered different ways and plans of action to surmount these challenges, we are faced with even a more daunting challenge; lack of suitable actions to implement these solutions and cure this threat to our future. In other words, there are plans of action but with little or no suitable actions. It’s against this backdrop that this write-up focuses on what we should change today to save the planet.
THE DIRECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENTALLY CHANGING WORLD
The environment as we have it today is sporadically moving away from everything that makes it habitable. The planet has lost and keep losing touch with essential ingredients that preserve life. Major among these adverse environmental changes to the world today are highlighted below:
-Global warming due to CO2 emissions which according to the UN have increased by almost 50% since 1990 is accelerating climate change and threatens the survival of millions of people, plants and animals by causing meteorological events like droughts, fires and floods, which are becoming increasingly frequent and more extreme.
– World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 90% of humanity breathes polluted air causing seven million deaths a year. Contaminated water also causes major health problems and five million deaths a year according to Oxfam Intermón.
– The oceans have become the giant waste dumps for plastic. In addition, there are other serious environmental problems related to the oceans such as damage to ecosystems due to global warming, dumping of pollutants, wastewater and fuel spills.
-Intensive food production harms the environment by depleting the soil and damaging marine ecosystems. The overexploitation of natural resources has put food safety and the availability of drinking water at risk..
-The world have already lost 8% of known animal species and 22% are at risk of extinction due mainly to the destruction of their natural habitats, poaching and the introduction of invasive species.
-The creeping growth of human population and many other factors constitute overwhelming threat to the environment.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE
There have been a lot of action plans to arrest the environmental challenges in the world. The Paris Treaty and many other agreements are geared towards protecting the environment. The United Nations for instance set out a 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The global plan of action adopted in 2015 puts forward specific measures to achieve a world that is fairer, more prosperous and more respectful of the environment within ten years. Other governmental organizations and non-government organizations have also shown concern in this bid. Different countries in the world have engaged in initiating environmental policies that includes regulating corporate waste, passing environmental laws and so on.
WHAT SHOULD WE CHANGE
As laudable as the efforts of the United Nations, other International, states and non-governmental bodies are, they are a waste of time and resources if we don’t change basic things that underlie the restoration of our ecosystem. Thus, to chart a way forward in the little time left to save our planet, it is indispensable we effect changes in the following:
LONG TERM SOLUTIONS. In considering the environmental problem, we need to think in long-term ways rather than short-term ways. If we think only in the short term, we are more likely to think of our own vested interests, our profit, our convenience, and our standard of living. If we think only about ourselves and our vested interests, we will not think about the good of our world now and in the future.
IMPLEMENTATION: The essence of a policy or law is realized in its implementation and execution. There are no shortage of policies and laws both Internationally and locally to combat environmental threats yet the challenge persists and grows even stronger as the days go by. States through their enforcement mechanism ought to first understand how life-threatening the situation is and spearhead the strict implementation of Policies and Laws concerning the environment. The safest bet is that governments should declare a state of emergency on the environment.
TIME: A key factor in solving our environmental problem is time. The world has no more time to waist. As a world community, we ought to act soon enough to head off environmental trends that could be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. Time, along with a sense of urgency and proceeding with bold action, are probably the ingredients to solving our environmental problem. Also, as the environmental problem grows, there could be a point where the environment has gotten so bad that we are not able to take enough action to reverse the problem in time for humans to survive. Consequently, the sooner we take action on this problem, the more likely we can control it and solve it.
EDUCATION: A greater percentage of the world is still in the dark as to the adverse and grave consequences of environmental hazards. Let environmental education be made to be a compulsory course of study in every levels of education. The media, Non-governmental organizations, institutions and individuals ought to be part and parcel of this crusade to enlighten the world to get involved to save the planet.
ATTITUDE; The dismal state of our environment is a clarion call for change of attitude. There must be a reorientation of the attitude of the globe towards the environment to reflect the seriousness of the situation. As a sweeping challenge, all and sundry ought to get involved. Let everyone recognize that in no time, the environment will see the end of us if we don’t see to the end of these occurring environmental threats.
COLLABORATION: Environmental problems require a collaborative approach among governments, civil society, and private interests. Environmental problems are diffuse and cross borders and jurisdictions. Natural, human, physical, financial and all-round resources ought to be pooled together to combat environmental hazards. That way, the challenge will be addressed in better and faster.
The one thing that we cannot afford is to put off facing the environmental problem; this problem and its consequences can only get worse, with the worst scenario being that we can no longer control it. There is no magic wand to solve our environmental challenges than when we start proffering long-term solutions, implementation of environmental policies and laws accompanied with a sense of urgency and when we start having a total change in our attitude towards the environment generally. In the absence of the above, soon the planet will have only one fate to face; extinction!