Are you Contributing to Environmental Degradation?

On a beautiful evening, my friend and I stepped into a supermarket to shop for a few items. As a regular, I picked plastic bags for every vegetable and grocery I purchased. My friend noticed this, and walked up to me and said, “Nehemiah, what happened to the minimal and eco-friendly lifestyle?” His question caught me by surprise as I had always prided myself as an environmental enthusiast. It kept ringing in my head and I asked myself, “Am I contributing to Environmental Degradation?”

Environmental Degradation is often defined as the deterioration of the environment through exhaustion of natural assets such as water, soil, and air including the ecosystem, habitat intrusion, wildlife extermination, and environmental pollution.

To a layman, environmental degradation is:

When Mama Basira in Ibadan, disposes of her waste in overflowing rainwater not knowing or caring that it could clog drainages and pollute the rivers. As for Sister Nkechi, a Lagos slay Queen, her hundreds of unworn clothes and dresses sitting pretty in her wardrobe are never enough, she does not hesitate to add extra hundreds to her collection. How about Mallam Musa in Kaduna, who will, by all means, raise his cows to a marketable size not minding the harm his methods cause to the environment? As little and innocent as these actions may seem, they play some role in the degradation of our environment.

How Do We Contribute to Environmental Degradation?

Overconsumption

Economics has it that human wants are insatiable. To ensure the satisfaction of our insatiable wants, we tend to overconsume resources and items that we can do without (as they are not basic needs). In environmental economics, overconsumption is a situation in which resource use has exceeded the sustainable carrying capacity of the ecosystem services. Our overconsumption pattern and behavior have increased the ecological footprint. Research shows that humans’ current demand is 70% higher than the regeneration rate of the ecosystem.

Coming down to our layman analogies; when you consume more than you require, you are stressing the environment. Sister Nkechi’s fashion excessiveness encourages intensive exploitation of ecosystem resources. The indiscriminate disposal of such resources results in the wastage of ecosystem resources. Are you practicing Sustainable Eating?

Just as the famous Jason Hickel’s book says, “Less is More”, living a life of minimal consumption is healthy for us and our environment.

Overpopulation

The good book commands us to multiply and be fruitful but fruitfulness and multiplication aren’t streamlined to reproduction alone. When population increase is not complemented with resource increase then we have overpopulation which contributes to environmental degradation. Based on the Malthusian Theory, overpopulation is a primary driver of ecological and societal threats, as it exerts pressure on limited resources. As such, there is a need for a balance between population and the available resources to ensure the quality of life for humans.

So, if Uncle Rasheed is so fruitful that he multiplies into a dozen children or more that he is unable to cater for, you can imagine the effect of thousands of Uncle Rasheeds in the world. This increasing demand and pressure on the limited resources on earth are causing environmental degradation in addition to other social crises. As you reproduce, please be gracious to Mother Earth!

Deforestation

According to research, millions of Nigerians are faced with energy poverty and rural residents are most vulnerable. Energy is important as it serves as a source of power, cooking fuel etc. Due to energy poverty, millions of individuals resort to alternative energy sources such as wood. This promotes massive deforestation in most rural areas and the removal of the forest cover has shown to be a significant driver of environmental degradation. The inflation in cooking gas prices is forcing more urban homes to utilise this cheaper but harmful source of energy.

The list is not exhaustive as there are many other ways by which we contribute to environmental degradation. We could talk about the car owners using their automobiles for short-distance locations (resulting in air pollution) when we can opt for a bicycle or simply walk. Have you seen those cars and motorcycles that release smoke like a chimney? How about those people burning their refuse indiscriminately. The air we are polluting is meant to serve us all for the rest of our lives!

In conclusion, when next you hear the word “environmental degradation” before you think of the oil spills in the Niger Delta, the bush burning in the forest area zones, or the wildlife poaching in Bauchi Reserves, think about your lifestyle; your behaviors, and consumption patterns and its impact on the environment. The point is that we need to be minimal in our consumption and lifestyle remembering that we have only one earth absorbing all these overwhelming pressures we exert on her. Take action today and be conscious of how you treat the earth.

Author: Nehemiah Eremiye

Photo: PNGWing

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