So I finally got the chance to see a documentary courtesy SustyVibes. It was titled Nowhere To Run. The title is so perfect as the documentary clearly showed that if we don’t act fast, we are in hot soup. Sometimes I think of it as maybe the world is coming to an end but I think again, most of these predictions are backed by scientific data and in fact we are experiencing them already except we want to deceive ourselves. Extreme weather conditions, coastal floods, famine, desertification and the list seems endless. I cried a bit while seeing the documentary because I just thought to myself “what is it going to be like when my little boys grow up”? Its really scary and we in the cities have not seen anything at all. The northern part of Nigeria and the Niger-delta are in a mess. They do not have sufficient water and there are all forms of pollution- water, air, land. A guy from one of Niger-delta areas said their fishes are filled with oil. Can you beat that? Some people believe that climate change, global warming, ozone layer depletion are just theories and over-exaggerations. Its real people, it is real. Everyone is too busy chasing financial gains forgetting that there has to be a balance if we want to continue to benefit optimally from the environment. We keep taking without returning. We all know that when we keep withdrawing from our bank accounts without refunding the account, it will get empty one day. There has to be a paradigm shift. The causes of climate change are interconnected and for us in Africa, we need to take these things more seriously because the expected temperature rise for us is at least 50 percent above the global e=average. The documentary revealed the desertification ravaging about 11 states across Northern Nigeria, coastal flooding, shrinkage of Lake Chad, pollution of the Niger-Delta and the loss of biodiversity which deforestation and rapid urbanization are major culprits. We now have irregular weather patterns. When it rains, its disastrous especially for the coastal areas, when it is sunny, its scorching!
The current population of Nigeria is 190,344,845 as of Tuesday, March 14, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates. That is about 2.55% of the world’s population. We are one of the biggest in gas flaring – we are in the top 5 gas flaring countries in the world. Terminal diseases that result from environmental causes are on the rise and to think our healthcare systems are inadequate to cater to our needs. These and more the consequences of our actions and inaction so to speak. We need extremely effective policies, equity & justice, constant reorientation and high level government participation in terms of providing amenities that would ease compliance.
Enough of this epistle. My own take to all these is that we need to change our mentality and readdress the way we view issues. No one is asking for drastic changes after all we did not get here one day. Yeah, there are big polluters and these issues need to be handled globally but what do we have to lose if we take action, one person at a time? These things are simply to do and would cost us close to nothing. I would outline few tips below.
- Eat less of everything. This is important, not only from an environmental point of view but also from the social and economic perspectives. Nigerians love food though there is beginning to be a shift from unhealthy food to healthier options. We waste food a lot. Most parties I go to have loads of wasted food. Ironically, there is food shortage in some parts of Nigeria coupled with the current economic recession that has resulted in staple foodstuff price hikes.
- Take public transport/Use Uber/Carpool. A lot of people have started embracing these options due to fuel price hike sometime last year. Public transportation in Lagos especially may not be a convenient option for some but you can share rides with your neighbors. You might have to walk abit but who days walking is bad for you?
- Watch the lights and unused appliances. A lot of people just feel every room should have its light on even when no one is occupying them at that moment. Save the energy and put the lights off. Its a win-win as you get to save on energy bills while reducing your carbon footprints.
- Stop littering. Why do educated people toss trash around to be picked up by uneducated people? Its just common sense. You would not litter your bedroom or any other part of the house but find it easy to just throw things out of our windows. Its weird to some but it has become part of me, I hold on to whatever I want to trash till I get a bin. We need to be eco-conscious to enable the environment sustain us and our children.
- Recycle. Its becoming popular in Nigeria now more so in Lagos, we have incentive-based programs that helps you get value from waste. Recycling is beyond just sorting out trash to be recycled. It extends to purchasing items made from recycled raw materials. You can check out PearlRecycling for up-cycled home decor and furniture. If you have old clothes made from cotton, you can use them as rags and mops instead buying fancy mops.
There are loads of things we can do but I will stop here today so you don’t get bored. So please get back to what you were doing and I will catch you later.
Please share your thoughts about Nigeria’s environmental menace!