The climate is changing; rain forests are disappearing; our farmlands are becoming infertile; glaciers and polar ice caps are melting and sea levels are risen; rainfall is becoming unpredictable by the day; drought and flooding are common, fresh water is becoming insufficient; wild plants and animals are becoming extinct; the sun is harsh on us; the roads are melting! and Yes! The air is polluted!
Environmental pollution is increasing at an alarming rate.The harmful substances introduced into the air by the activities of mankind, resulting in imbalance in air quality is causing adverse effects and health challenges on living organisms existing on earth.
These pollutants also impact on the earth’s climate, causing global warming. Some of the air pollutants which cause global warming include green house gasses (GHG); one of these is carbon dioxide coming from car and truck exhausts and methane, which comes from gas emitted by livestock, GHG cause global warming by trapping heat from the sun in the earth’s atmosphere. They are supposed to be a natural part of the earth’s atmosphere, but it has increased beyond what the earth can cope with due to the activities of man, causing serious changes in the climate.
Several Nigerian rural settlements that had in the past enjoyed clean, healthy air are now experiencing severe air pollution from several air contaminants, owing to industrialization and geometric increase in population. Some of these pollutants come from the burning of fossil fuel, wood, coal,and exhaust from cars; agricultural activities like biocides, such as pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, burning of waste, etc. additionally, the endless use of generators due to epileptic power supply, also cause air pollution.
These pollutants not only have adverse effects on our health and that of wildlife species and animals, but also affect the climate. A recent study showed that the most polluted city in the world is in Nigeria – Onitsha. Such a discovery gives cause for concern because, the medical implications of this claim is numerous, as it causes deaths,damage to lungs through organic dust particles resulting in asthma, bronchial cancer, reduces oxygen carrying capacity of the blood; inflames upper respiratory passages; induce coughing, damage red-blood cells and kidneys, and also causes jaundice.
A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that 98,000 Nigerian women die annually from smoke inhaled from cooking with firewood. Some of these pollutants affect the fertility of the soil, and also leads to deaths of the animal. In fact, the study goes on to say that “if a woman cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner with firewood, it is the equivalent to smoking between 3 and 20 packets of cigarettes a day.”
Another study by the Harvard scientists which is of serious concern to the developed world, is that honey bees are dying at a scary rate, the implication of this development is that food supply will shrink because, one-third of the food we consume get pollinated by these bees. In fact, due to the importance of these bees, the scientists are already making a robotic honey bee to pollinate some of these foods, nuts and fruits. The major question is if the robotic bee can help in pollination, what about the medicinal value of the honey the bees provide? What are the future side effects of using the robotic bees for pollination?
The Robotic Bee…
It has become increasingly evident that air pollution is affecting vegetation, as much as it is affecting human and animal lives. Therefore, the fight against pollution has become necessary and urgent, and the time is now!
Cutting down on those activities which result in air pollution is an important step we must all take to live healthy, and also hand over a habitable environment to future generations. We don’t need to wait for the government to come with policies before we can cut down on activities that affect the environment and our health. Some of these lifestyle changes are key:
- Conserve energy at home, at work and everywhere; we don’t need to leave the lights on (even if they are energy conserving bulbs) during the day.
- We must be sure that our tyres are properly inflated
- Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning agents whenever necessary
- Refuel your car in the evening, when the weather is cooler
- Reduce or eliminate fire place and wood stove
- Avoid bush burning
- It is essential to cut down on the amount of packaged goods we purchase and the amount of household waste we produce. The process of manufacturing packaging releases harmful emissions into the atmosphere, and its transportation to the dumpsite also release harmful emissions.
- Reduce the amount of time we spend in the car; whenever we can, we can do short distances on foot or ride a bike to errands.
- Plant as many trees as you can for every one fell, carbon dioxide that pollute and depletes the ozone layer is food for the trees.
Let us join the clean air campaign to restore back the clean dry air of our cities
– Jato Ladi is the Kogi State Project Coordinator for NEWMAP.