ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Undoubtedly, the environment is of great importance to man. Indeed, man cannot live without affecting his environment or being affected by it. He depends on the environment, for his primary needs-food, air and water. He develops culture within specific environment, in order to adapt himself within that environment. Infact, Man’s inventions, investments, and all other discoveries of the present century would not have been possible without the help of the environment. In as much as the environment proves useful to man, man must also prove useful to the environment help to build it, rather than destroy.
Karl Polanyi stresses the need for man to consider iment in his processes of living. He observes that:

What we call land is an element of nature, inextricably interwoven with man’s institutions. . . Traditionally, land and labour are not separated. Labour forms part of life, land remain part of nature. Life and nature form an articulate whole, land is thus tied up with the organization of kinship, neighbourhood, craft and creed with tribe and temple. Village, guild, church. . . The ecomic function is but one of the many Junctions of land. It invests man’s life with stability, it is the site of his habitation.
The above quotation from Karl Polanyi stresses the need for man to consider his ecological whole in his process of living i.e the environment and himself. In other words, equal consideration :n to both the environment and man’s needs for survival development.

What is an Environment?

Presently the  focus of the writers on environment encompasses the physical conditions and the non-physical circumstances- socio-economic conditions that influences man’s way of life. Thus, the environment is seen as the total sum of the surrounding conditions within which an organism, community or object exists. Oyeneye et al: (1993) perceives of the environment as the total sum of the surrounding external conditions which an organism, community or object exist. This includes both organic and inorganic matter, physical phenomena like climate, other living things and every other thing that the population requires to survive such as food, moisture, air, light and so on.

Components of the Environment

For analytical purposes, we can differentiate between two basic components of the environment.
1.         Natural environment: This implies the existence of natural habitat in which human activities are initially insignificant. Examples  are  natural  habitats  of different  species  of organism. Other geographical structures such as valleys, oceans, forests, plains and space.
2.         Social Environment:  man-made environment are those situations, circumstance induced by man as a result of his activities.   In  the  present  day,   human  activities  have encroached almost all the available space in the universe (land, sea, air). It is therefore, very rare to come’by a typical natural environment.
Other components of the man-made or human environment includes:
a. Population: This refers to the members of a society considered collectively. It can also be viewed as the total number of people residing in a giVen area. For instance, population of a country, state, village, school, habitat.
b. Culture: This means the total way of life of a people. It is divided into two. The material and the non-material culture. Examples:
i. Material products of Culture: This include all the man-made, overt products of a culture. It is signified by technology. The types of artifacts, tools implements houses, bridges etc. evolved in a society depict the level of technology of that society and also the rate of its human and material development.
ii. Non-material products of culture: Non-materials culture simply means a system of norms and values of a society. It consists of the words people use, the ideas, customs and beliefs they hold and the habits they follow:
c.         Social Organization: This is regarded as the way in which individual and relationships are ordered with reference to goals of the society concerned. There are two aspect of social organizations. The structure, which relates to the network of inter­relationships  and social order, which implies change as social organizations grow and adapt to new structure.
d.         Social Institutions: These are a set of norms organized and established for the pursuit of some need or activity of a society,  e.g economic institution, the family institution.
e.         Genetic Constants: These are common heritages or attributes of a population, that are products of the human species. They are the same for all human  societies  and they  also  persist  over generations. Examples are primary needs (foods, shelter, mate), societal mode of life, process of learning and modifying behaviour, emotions.

The Relationship Between man and his environment

The relationship between man and his environment is an intricate one. Over the years however, man and his activities have been the major subject for any discussion on the environment. It should be noted that the environment could serve both as a constraint (negative factor) as well as a prerequisites (positive factor) for human development. In the same way, human development could render the environment hazardous and therefore negative to development. In fact, some writers are of the opinion that man is doing REPARABLE damage to his environment through his activities. is made a scholar as observed by Henry Janette to state that: “If beings from another world were viewing the human ecological system with curiousity as our children look at a bee colony or ant hill,  they would observe EXPONENTIAL INCREASES in environmental congestion and damage” (Henry Janette ed 1968).
In trying to explain the nature of man’s relationship to the environment three (3) schools of thought have emerged.
The first school of thought argues that man is being conditioned by his environment. During this pre-industrial period, man was seen to be controlled by his environment. This school of thought assumes that human development is limited and man is more or less controlled by nature.
The second school of thought, argues about the dominance of man over nature. This phase started with the industrial revolution in Western Europe. During this period, the environment was seen as providing possibilities for human kind. Hence, the period was tagged POSSIBILISM ERA. This school of thought has the explicit assumption that human development could be comprehended over are and as such provide a purposeful attempt to shape nature.
The third School of thought emerged at the period when people realized that nature cannot be subjugated, rather people should be seen as integral part of nature, therefore there is a need to live peacefully. This thought started about three and half decades ago is still in operation. This approach advocates a sort of symbiotic relationship between the environment and human development. Such relationship should be as complementary as possible to allow for order and stability, which are necessary for continued utilization of environment. Thus, we must bear in mind the following:
1. The impact that the environment may have depends on which of the three approaches above is adopted. Man cannot survive without exploiting nature. Nature provides him with food, housing and the basic ingredient for his health care delivery system. Indeed through science and technology man has destroyed millions of hectares of forests, lakes, artifacts, and emits into the atmosphere carbon dioxide causing gradual global warming.
2. For a sustainable economic development, the environment must be protected in order to preserve the resources environmental problems that may make life unbearable
3. The quality of present and future life rests on meeting human needs without destroying the environment all life depends.
4. The concept of ecology is vital to the process socio-economic development. Ecology is that phase of biology that considers plants and animals as they exist in nature, and studies their interdependence and the relation of each kind and individual to its environment. Ecological development involves protecting and improving the natural environment and resources base essential for present and future development.
5. Environmental protection should be seen as individual, the community and state.

Environmental Pollutions

Pollution can be seen as the discharge of waste substance or energy into the environment through human activities in amount harmful to man, plants and animals.
We can also describe pollution as the process whereby the environment (land, water, air) is filled up with waste chemicals and other harmful substance. The materials that causes impurity or pollution are called Pollutants. Man’s activities lot of waste products which are invariably sent into the environment as huge dump of refuse, toxic wastes, industrial wastes and result of the above, fresh air could no longer be found in cities, rural areas degenerate to a state of decay, whil dangerous heaps of garbage have become common features in our cities.
Man exploits the environment daily in the name of progress without checking the effects properly. If such attitude continue unabated, what could happened to the environment would be a total disaster
It may be likened to a balloon that, instead, of being blown up with air is blown up with progress and economic development. In the early stages, it can accommodate the growth easily, but later there is a danger of it bursting and being destroyed. The more development the environment absorbs, the more essential it is to check what effects it is having before it is too late; (Bains: 1973).

Forms of Pollution

We have about four types of pollution, they are:-
1.          Land Pollution
2.          Water Pollution (thermal Pollution).
3.          Air Pollution
4.         Noise pollution

Land Pollution

Land pollution occurs as results of indiscriminate dumping of garbage into the surrounding land.-There are two types of land pollution,
a.         Soil Pollution:- Occurs when the land is rendered unproductive. This can be caused by oil spillage, unchecked application of fertilizer and pesticides or over utilization of the land. Large refuse dumps, unkempt sewage, scraps of all types constituted land pollution
b.         Vegetation Pollution:- Most of man’s  activities necessitate the destruction of vegetation Action of some chemicals and pesticides also change, deform or destroy our vegetation. Soil erosion is another factor of vegetation pollution. Millions of hectares of forest are  destroyed yearly for man’s  activities-farming, industry, housing and other social needs. auses of Laud Pollution
Agriculture and the type of agricultural practice: Large hectares of forest land are being cleared, trees are uprooted and systematically felled in order to make room for agriculture. Such processes of deforestation and the traditional bush-burning after harvesting period, result in soil erosion which renders the land barren and polluted. Over cultivation of the same piece of land also erodes the land.
Actions of other animals: Over grazing is also a factor of pollution. This is usually felt in Grassland areas where there are more animals than the environment could provide for i.e pressure is exerted on the few and exhaustible grass available as animal feeder.
Man’s Inexhaustible activities:- i.e Mining industry housing, schools, recreation, all lead to clearing of land, cutting down trees exposes the soil to erosion and other forms of pollution. Other factors of land pollution include wind, death and decay of plants and animals and over population.

Water Pollution

Water pollution simply means the release or dumping of ibbish, biological or chemical organic matters or wastes into the rater which may be harmful to the marine life. For example, salts, :ids, waste, mercury compounds from factories.
The industrialized World have turned our oceans and seas ito “dust bins” as millions of tons of industrial wastes are dumped early into these water. This kills the marine lives and deprive us of ur fish protein intake. It destroys all the useful water bacteria and How the resistant ones that cause diseases to remain.
Thermal pollution as another form of water pollution occurs when the temperature of large bodies of water increases. This makes it warmer. As such little oxygen can dissolve, while some of the oxygen is also driven out. This happens because of hot water being emitted into the oceans/seas from electric and nuclear power plants.
Causes of Water Pollution
Water pollution can be caused as a result of the following:
1.         Biological  agents;  examples pathogenic  micro­organism, parasitic worms and protozoan from domestic sewage.
2.         Crude oil from blow-out of wells/oils spillage, leaking pipe line and wrecked oil tankers.
3.         Industrial   wastes   from   chemicals   and   food processing industries.
4.         Water pollution can also be caused by organic fertilizer.

Air Pollution

Pollution of the atmosphere is of particular concern to all terrestrial life forms. Mammals such as ourselves constantly breathe in air. Plants also continuously exchange gases with the atmosphere. In this way, toxic substances such as lead and sulphur dioxide enter the bodies of living organisms directly.
Air pollution therefore is the contamination of the air we breath in by industrial gases, smoke from burning and also carbon monoxide from motor vehicle exhausts. Temperature inversion is a form of air pollution.
Causes of Air Pollution
Air pollution can be caused by he following factors:
1.         Solids: examples, dust, soot and other solvents.
2.         Mists or drops; example, sulphuric acid and other chemical from industrial processes.
3.         Gases: examples, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide from industries  and carbon monoxide  from motor vehicle exhaust.
4.       Another causes of air pollution is smoke from burning of coal and other fuels in industries.

Noise Pollution

Noise pollution can be regarded as any form of sound that is above the capacity of human hearing system. Music sound put at its top or loud enough to disturb others, our shouting, loud drumming, singing, are all forms of noise pollution. Other forms are loud noise by machineries automobiles, trucks, and airplanes that travel at the speed pf sound (super sonic) and emit sonic booms, bfti g ,-. The .cause of noise pollution is the degree of sound emitted by the above.mentioned. Some may be loud enough to cause deafening.to the ear. It should be noted here that most economies are no,t imposition to provide sound absorbing device such as earmuffs, , sound absorbing floors, walls etc.

The Effects of Pollution on the Environment

Land,.air, water, man, animals and even non-living things e.g, stones, metal etc do not escape from the harmful effect of pollution. These are explained below:
Effects of Land Pollution
Land pollution destroys the vegetable and crops. As trees are cut for agriculture, fuel, building materials, medicine and so on, other effects are witnessed. These include deforestation, bush-burning, over-cultivation and soil erosion. The slashing and burning of grasses for animal feed caused over-grazing and do not allow time for trees to regenerate With this and deforestation, torrents of water are allowed to run down slope unchecked thereby causing floods. Land pollution also results in desert encroachment. The release of industrial gases, and other toxic substance into the air isuch as lead and sulphuric acid (sulphur dioxide), carbon monoxide causes acid rain,
This acid rain is blamed by many ecologists for the deaths of large tracts of coniferous forest in Western Europe and for the disappearance offish from Scandinavian lakes. Exposing the earth surface to the direct heat of the sun causes denitritification of minerals. Heaps of garbage and scraps are dangerous to our health. They also make our cities ugly and belittle us in the yes of the onlookers.
Effects of Water Pollution
Water pollutants such as mercury compounds acids are dangerous to man, plants and animals. They could affect food web so that all animals and plants in it could die or get poisoned. Water pollutants kill fish and thereby depriving man of protein-intake. The) kill other plants and bacteria that are useful to water, plants and animals leaving the disease resisting bacteria that produce flies, blue-green algae in the water. Water pollution makes water poisonous and unfit to drink. It renders water unfit for man’s leisure like swimming and fishing. Fertilizer insecticides applied on farms also get washed away into the rivers/seas, affecting man, plants and animals as explained above. Thermal pollution also reduces the level of oxygen dissolved in water, thus harmful to fish and other useful water bacteria.
Effects of Air Pollution
Air pollutants like sulphur dioxide, fluorides, oxides, carbon monoxide are dangerous to the lives of man, animals and plants. The aerial pollutions (i.e, the chloroflouro-carbons) are thought to be I destroying the ozone layers of the stratosphere which protects us from too much ultraviolet light from the sun. This means that when ozone layers of the stratosphere are destroyed, we are drastically affected by the ultraviolet rays from the sun. This causes radioactive pollution, which contributes to diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema, and thyroid. It also increases the severity of some existing conditions such as hay fever, asthma and bronchitis, allergies and ear troubles. It affects animals and plants similarly. These and other effects to mention but a few are the drastic effects of pollution on both the environment and the health of human beings.
Temperature inversion also affects the natural balance of the higher you go, the cooler it becomes. This is because in the case of temperature inversion, air near the earth surface is cooler than air that is a few hundred feet higher. This upsets the natural balance. Air pollution also affects non-living things. This is because acids in polluted air damage stones, metals, nylon and paper.
Effects of Noise Pollution
The effect of the noise pollution is mainly on the health of the human person. Noise pollution could result in ulcers, increase blood pressure or aggravate conditions of heart troubles, nervousness and deafness.

Controlling Pollution

Control Measures for Land Pollution: Land Pollution could be checked by using different soil and vegetation conversation methods. These include: Afforestation: shifting cultivation, the Fallow system “Taungya” system of agriculture, avoiding bush burning. Land pollution can also be controlled by proper collection and disposals of garbage. For example, garbage recycling plants can be established. This separates the different items. Materials in a garbage like paper, plastic metals, glass and put them into man made recycles. They are then reproduced and used: For instance iron, aluminum, glass, paper, plastics, fertilizer can all be reproduced through garbage recycling. Burial of urban wastes in plant field and conservation of soil wastes to composites etc.
Sewage could also be recycled (if certified fit for human consumption) as explained above.
Control Measures for Water Pollution: Water pollution can be controlled by taking the following measures:
1.         Unwanted   chemical   wastes   should   be   converted   into harmless biodegradation products before being disposed into the sea.
2.         Crude oil carriers, the main culprit of oil spillage must conform to international standard before being allowed to lift oil with their tankers.
3.          Sewage should be processed, treated and converted to useful fertilizers in sewage plants rather than discarded in its raw form.
Control Measures for Air Pollution
1.          Law and legislation pass/promulgated must be stringently (strictly)   obeyed   by   industrial   and   agriculture establishments to reduce air pollution to manageable proportions
2.           Education  through  the  mass  media  (i.e,   newspaper television or radio) or through schools to make the public aware of the danger of air pollution.
3.            Radioactive contaminants must be rendered inactive or kept in sealed containers and dispose in a safe place.
In addition, cars with less pollution could be designed. Mass transportation is another option. It would greatly reduce the rate of pollution per head. Similarly, better and faster telecommunication services could be evolved. In addition, air pollutants in smoke can) also be recycled.

Conservation Agencies

The United Nations Conference on Human Environment ii Stockholm in 1972. (5th of June 1972), gave birth to the Work Environmental Day to be marked yearly (WED). The theme of the gathering was  to reaffirm  concern  for the preservation and entrancement of the environment with a view to deepening! environmental awareness.
Environmental issue is a global issue. This is because the) world can be seen as a global village linked together in its land, ai and water spaces. For instance toxic waste dumped at the Atlantic! Ocean can affect a village in Nigeria, Recently it has been observed] that nuclear, liquid gas and other industrial waste are seriously threatening the Ozone layer of the atmosphere. This is said to be threat to life.
                     In order to reduce over exploitation of the environment there must be consciously formulated international and national policies on the environment containing detailed implementation strategies. The Nigerian constitution (1999) in chapter II section 20 states the Environmental objectives of the Nation as, “The state shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wild life of Nigeria”. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) is responsible for developing meaningful and sustainable policies and strategies to achieve the above objectives. Among the problems of environment in Nigeria are draught and desertification, flooding and erosion, air and water pollution, improper discharge of domestic and solid waste, deforestation, pest infestation and others.
The concept ‘conservation’ can be defined as a means by which living organisms, and their environments are managed and protected from man’s excesses or interference.
The habitat destruction and over-exploitation by man has since gone to such an extent that the wild life in many areas is now impoverished and some species of plants and animals are near extinction. Added to these are the pressure put on wildlife, and forestry by man’s pollution of the environment. These actions causes extermination of species of plants and animals. As such environmentalist argue that it is morally wrong for human to condemn other species to extinction. There are some classification of conservation. These are:-
1.         Conservation of forest
2.         Conservation of fresh water
3.         Conservation of wildlife etc.
It was the need to conserve the natural resources to ensure the continuity of our existence on this planet (earth) that conservation agencies emerged. Conservation agencies therefore, are those agencies established to conserve and regulate the activities of individuals in interfering with their natural resources. The primary aim of these agencies is to preserve nature and protect the prevailing environment. We have both International and the National Conservation Agencies.  The  international  conversation  agencies  include the following:
1.         National Park: started as Yellow Stone National              in 1876 USA.
2.         The International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN) founded in 1956 by UNESCO.
3.         The World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Similarly; various organizations have been commissioned the world bodies to monitor and educate the world on the state of the global environment. Such bodies include:
1.         United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
2.         United  Nations  Global  Environment  Monitoring System (UNGEMS)
3.         Environmentally Sound Management of Inland Water (EMIW)
4.         Global Assembly of Land Degradation (GLASOD)

National Conservation Agencies Include:

1.         Forestry Guard
2.         Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FED A)
3.         Games Reserves
CONCLUSION
The environment which we live in forms a part of us. As such if we neglect or damage any part of our natural social environment we are destroying our present and future lives. Its is necessary to adopt a modern approach and view point of the environment. Such approach, considers man as an integral part of nature and whose activities should not destroy that nature (including him). Pollution in all its forms and types should be checked. Environmental protection! should be seen as a duty of the individual, the community and state at the local level. At the international level, the industrialized countries must necessarily control pollution as their activities and products aim responsible to a large extent for all forms of pollution.
                  The approach to environmental protection and conservation in most developing countries like Nigeria is to react to environmental problems as they arise. Example is the case of water hyacinth that invaded part of Nigerian ocean. Even though such approach is relevant, it is better to ameliorate the causative factor i.e conditions that give rise to the growth of such plants in our waters. The citizenry should be enlightened, trained and educated on the need to secure and maintain a “pollution-free” environment at all levels. In order to achieve this, the mass media, public enlightenment programmes and even house to house conscience- raising awareness can be employed. A well-protected and conserved environment is a treasure forever.

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