• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Tackling the crisis of biodiversity

Tackling the crisis of biodiversity

More than at any other time in human history, we are currently facing a biodiversity crisis on this planet that our ancestors left to us. Our actions are causing a climate disaster fueled by human exploration and exploitation. This disaster is not only leading to the loss of lives and property but also devastating the natural ecosystem. We’re not doing enough to stop the worrying retreat of our biodiversity hotspots.

It is obvious that the building of roads, the laying of railroad tracks, the development of homes, and farming operations are devouring the available land and the ecology at a faster rate than anything else. The damaging effects of oil spills and careless garbage disposal have severely damaged and contaminated our rivers and ocean floors. The purposeful disregard of political figures, corporate oil firms, and community leaders has resulted in environmental deterioration from which the Ogonis communities have never fully recovered and may never fully recover.

Based on the above-painted scenario, Yusuf Akinpelu wrote in the Premium Times on May 15, 2021, that data from the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), a government-run satellite tracker, showed that 881 cases of oil spillage were reported in twelve (12) states in Nigeria between January 2019 and April 2021. It was stated that just three oil-producing states—Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers—accounted for almost 77 percent of the spills. Most of these towns have suffered because of these ongoing spills. Due to these human activities, they lost their farms, rivers, beaches, and leisure areas.

Lagos and Abia have announced bans on Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene foam, due to its potential to cause toxic pollution and cancer. Oil spills containing styrene can seep into food and beverages, posing a risk to both living creatures and non-living objects. Styrene also releases ozone into the atmosphere, posing a threat to human health and the environment. Landfills may choke animals, impacting people, and the trash is not biodegradable, taking 500-1,000,000 years for polystyrene to break down. Therefore, the governments are taking steps to address the issue of Styrofoam.

Rather than blaming the government, we should appreciate the audacity of these states for taking this bolder stance to save humanity and our environment. Lagos State, as the Centre of Excellence, has a big role to play in developing comprehensive sustainable environmental policies on refuse collection, disposal, and management.

Biodegradable packing peanuts manufactured from cornflour, which dissolve in water and are healthy for the environment, are an alternative to Styrofoam and polyethylene. Corrugated cardboard made of paper is an additional option that is both recyclable and biodegradable. It’s also advisable to consider BPA-free plastics and reusable containers made of glass and stainless steel. Furthermore, bioplastics, or plant-based polymers, come from sustainable sources such as potatoes, corn, and sugarcane.

Edible cutlery made from grains like sorghum, rice, or wheat is suitable for restaurants, street food vendors, and ceremonial festivities. Silicone containers and natural plates and bowls made from bamboo, palm leaves, or sugarcane bagasse are eco-friendly and biodegradable alternatives. The government should establish regulations to protect the environment and our way of life. Polythene bags, such as pure water polythene bags, should be eliminated. Biodegradable packing peanuts made from corn flour are a safe alternative to Styrofoam and polyethene. Corrugated cardboard made of paper is also recyclable and biodegradable.

Rwanda banned single-use plastic bags in 2008, leading to the UNDP’s “Global Plastics Community of Practice” conference in Kigali in October 2023. Rwanda and Norway have developed a global treaty to end plastic pollution by 2040. If Rwanda and Norway can achieve this, we can tackle the plastic pollution crisis directly, as Muhammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stated in his book “My Vision Challenges in the Race for Excellence.”

In summary, biodiversity preservation is not only essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems and preserving species diversity but also plays a critical role in promoting human longevity and well-being. By recognising and investing in the interconnectedness of biodiversity and human health, we can work towards a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.