We human beings are not responsible for our existence. By the time we become self conscious we are already many years old. Likewise, human kind became conscious of its existence in the world many millennia after the world had been in existence. The world we find ourselves in is not our own; we are a tiny part of it. Other creatures and inanimate things are as much as part of the world as we ourselves. It is an error on our part as creatures to conduct ourselves in this world as if we, members of this generation, are the only creatures that matter, and we are the owners of the world.
We are in a serious ecological crisis, a crisis into which we have plunged ourselves. The intelligence with which we human beings are endowed has turned us into careless plunderers of the fruits of creation. Human kind is on the verge of self destruction through technological inventions and innovations that undermine rather than enhance the various components of creation that make life on earth possible.
First came the World War 1 (1914-1918) which was followed by the World War 11 (1939-1945). Both wars paint a grim picture of what all this meant to man and his environment. Missiles were launched, bombs detonated, grenades set and machine guns used to kill men in massive numbers. The environment suffered too. Though silently destroyed, it did regenerate as the rule of nature dictated. So much time has elapsed and this war has evolved to what is now known as terrorism. Enmity between nations over resources, religion, race and tribe has generated a new wave of dreaded fear among the peoples.
And though overlooked, death has penetrated the agricultural sector. In ancient times, man obtained his food through hunting wild game and gathering plant materials. His population was low and his activities had little impact upon the environment. Though farming is being practiced all over and especially in the rural areas, hunger has still been on the rise for the last decade. And important as it is, man is losing interest in the sector which is now being commercialised as a business venture. Among the factors that determine access to food by man is money.
A wealthy person has access to lots of foodstuffs, gets fatter and fatter by the day, becomes vulnerable to all sorts of diseases, has access to quality medical services and solves the ‘obese’ issue by getting access to a local gym in order to fit into societal size eight requirements. Always on the scale curious on whether the ‘appropriate’ size has been reached. On the other side of the world is a very poor person so poor that even access to food becomes a huge struggle day in day out. Some even die because of lack of it. Over-reliance for food donations here becomes the norm, and wrinkled skin, weak and a lesser than eight body sizes is what they’ve got to show for it. While this is happening, poverty is driving man to clear forests to get firewood, practise poor farming methods to over-cultivate his land in an attempt to increase food production. The result? Well, you guessed it right-desertification.
The industrial agribusiness sector has become the main consumer of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and worse still, the 12 most dangerous chemicals. Both sides of the coin have negatively impacted the environment. With the current advancement in science and technology as well as the continuous increase in population, we are producing so much waste that the environment is almost becoming over-saturated. Over-consumption has led to a massive waste problem on open spaces. Landfills are already filled up, our rivers and lakes have become centres of pollution. In an attempt to solve this situation, some have even gone to the extent of dumping such toxic waste in the deep oceans. And while urbanisation is growing faster by the day, taller buildings, sky scrapers, expansion of road, communication infrastructure, traffic jams are occupying everywhere. Land pollution, water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, what more has man left to pollute?
This has spelt doom for the aquatic life beneath. Small and big animals, microscopic and macroscopic plants, all have been endangered. Some animals have been forced to relocate as the quest for survival continues. The land animals and plants have not been spared either; wild animals have been sought after in the national parks, national reserves and in other unprotected wild environs and killed for their products such as their skin, hide and tusks. Wild plants have been choked up to death by invasive plants or overexploited for sale as medicinal or for beauty.
While the quest for more energy led to the industrial revolution which has brought about so many different innovations and inventions, the result of this has turned out to be the biggest threat for man’s survival here on earth. Forests are disappearing, and fast. Pristine mountain tops are being stripped of coal in an attempt to speed up the industrialization process which has become the top most priority for all nations as the atmosphere becomes choked up with GHG.
There is much to be done to turn the tide on the decline of the environment. The challenge now is for the African governments, institutions, organizations and the general public to awaken to the realities of just how fragile our earth actually is.