“The sands of time have rendered fear
Blue skies on high no longer clear
Stars were bright whence they came
Now dimmed, obscured, pollution’s haze.
Crystal clear our waters gleamed
Fish abundant, rivers streamed
Ocean floors sandy whits
Now littered, brown, pollution’s plight…”
(Warned by Sylvia Stults)
The world we live in now has been through a series of changes to become what it is now. Our environment as we know it now is the exact opposite of what mother nature birthed. Our environment has changed. The word change in this context is synonymous with excessive ozone depletion, alterations in the ecosystem due to reduction of eco-diversity, changes in biogeochemical systems and supplies of freshwater, land devaluation, the strain on food-producing systems, climate change, and global warming. Environmental change can be described as a change or disturbance of the environment commonly caused by human interference and natural disasters. Global environmental change is a critical topic apparent in the extreme weather conditions in parts of the world, endangering the survival of vulnerable species and their habitats.
Mangroves are a group of tropical salt-tolerant trees and shrubs that grow in dense thickets or along tidal estuaries. They are found in intertidal zones, salt marshes, and muddy coasts. A gift from mother nature herself. Mangroves function in providing several nature-based solutions to various ecological problems. They act as tension bars and prevent land corrosion, providing multiple benefits to man and the environment.
Africa has 21% of the world’s mangroves with Nigeria ranking 7th among the top 20 mangrove habitat countries (according to a study conducted in 2014, Wikipedia). Nigeria has one of the biggest mangrove reserves globally, specifically in the Niger Delta region. Our mangroves are now rated the most degraded globally because they are victims of poor management practices, pollution-induced by oil spillage, extreme exploitation rates, and lack of protective or preservative policies.
The heightening levels of greenhouse gases like; CH4, N2O, CO2, and O3 and the likes have resulted in elevated average levels in global temperature, alarming weather events, increasing sea levels, and many other environmentally detrimental events.
The Earth’s ozone layer is a shield. It is the Earth’s armor against harsh radiation from the sun and is capable of subsuming 97-99% of deleterious ultra-violet light.
The ozone layer is one of the natural environmental systems affected by human-induced changes. The absence of the ozone layer would injure life on Earth, destroy organic matter and increase radiation exposure. Resulting in increasing the rates of occurrence of skin cancer and cataract. As it stands, we are gradually losing the ozone layer due to the rate at which it is depleting.
Depletion of the ozone layer is not a natural phenomenon. It is a human-induced environmental change.
Climate change and the increment in sea levels have significantly affected the coastal areas of Nigeria. Niger Delta may risk losing a large portion of land due to inundation and soil erosion. Other areas most likely to also be affected by such conditions are Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Yenogoa, Okirika, and Warri (Ogunniran B.I, 2018).
Nonetheless, the environment is indeed changing with adverse effects on all forms of life. The less privileged and impoverished are most susceptible to these changes. That is because they are primary benefactors of natural resources and ecosystem services. They depend on the environment for a means of livelihood and food. They reside in areas that are vulnerable to environmental hazards because the land is cheap and affordable for them.
WHAT SHOULD WE CHANGE?
It is said, “that genuine environmental protection is seen in adoring the mountains, the oceans and in loving all creation.” (Cheng Yen). We have several problems associated with our apathy for things that concern our environment. We need a change of attitude. The one thing we need to do first is love our environment. When you love something you would not want to hurt it, you would attend to their wounds and ensure their safety. When we choose to love our environment, the gifts of nature, our biodiversity, our natural resources, our trees, etc., we stand the chance of conquering these problems.
We need to change our tactics and strategies. Like defenders in football, our job is to support the team (our environmental policies) and guard against the opposition (wrong-doers and offenders of these policies). We need to be alert, ready to preserve and protect what we love.
We need to inspire and finance the production of feasible technology geared towards the revival of forest cover and sea plants. Our environmental policies need to be reviewed, strengthened, and strictly implemented. Habitat exploitation and destruction should be discouraged and offenders duly punished.
As citizens, we can play our part by adopting sustainable lifestyles and researching ways to preserve eco-diversity. We can practice proper waste disposal habits and reduce the use of toxic chemicals whose production depletes the ozone layer.
Another prime change we need to make is the change of our minds. George Bernard Shaw once said, “ Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” We need to unlearn those negative habits and incorporate habits beneficial to us and our environment. There is a need for mass sensitization on the dangers of loss of eco-diversity, ecosystem services, and our harmful ignorant practices deteriorating the environment. Most importantly, how we can curb this issue and preserve our environment for generations to come.
Change is an inevitable phenomenon. The most constant thing in this life is change, closely followed by the fear of change. Every day we notice one or two changes in our environment. Change ranging from; extreme weather conditions to recurrent natural disasters. Either some of our favorite flower species become extinct or our biodiversity becomes endangered. These changes are man-made and so are the solutions. What do we do when trees that provide us with shade are no longer there? We adopt afforestation and guard against poaching. What do we do when our source of agricultural produce for exports is depleting? We encourage proper farming practices. What do we do when human practice has eaten deep into the richness of our environment? We prefer and practice solutions to curb these problems.
Barnett, J. (2009). Environmental Security. Science Direct. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from www.sciencedirect.com
Environmental Prptection. (n.d.). Three Environmental Issues and Ways to Combat them. Environmental Protection. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from www.eponline.com
McMicheal, A. J., Friel, S., & Corvalan, C. (n.d.). Global Environmental Change and Health. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Ogunniran, B. I. (2018, February 22). Ozone Layer Depletion and Climate Change in Nigeria: Problems and Prospects- A Review. Edelweiss Applied Science and Technology, 2.
Whyte, D. (2020, December 15). ‘Mangrove for Life’- restoring Nigeria’s Mangrove Ecosystem. One Earth. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from www.oneearth.org
World Health Organisation. (n.d.). Climate Change and Human Health. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from www.who.int