By Jiata Ekele
The spherical characteristics of Mother Earth connotes that every system in her moves in a cycle. Every reasonable step taken in support of another component of the planet affects us positively, and every wrong step taken, whether deliberately or ignorantly, affect us negatively immediately or later.
Humans play a major role in shaping nature and sustainable culture is the best way to give hope to mother nature- our only home. If we do not take care of our home, who will?
Hence, we must intentionally protect nature and all its values by our conduct and even thoughts. Sustainability should be the solid ground we build our goals on as individuals, community or a nation.
Biodiversity is essential for life. Genetic and species diversity help organisms adapt to and survive changes. Ecological diversity maintains balance in the ecosystem and increases the benefits we derive from nature.
Typical examples are the anti-viral drugs Zovirax and Acyclovir were obtained from Caribbean sponge’s isolated nucleosides. Invariably, the more species available, the more therapeutic advantages to be explored.
Do you know that 70% of the oxygen we breathe comes from phytoplankton?
These wonderful sea plants convert large amounts of CO2 (our most significant enemy of global climate change) to oxygen. In fact, the ocean is home of 300,000 species that are all important in nature.
If we upset the normal abundance and biodiversity of ocean species, we would be disrupting a vital system that supports our smooth existence.
Many anthropogenic activities that disturb the ocean are untreated industrial effluent that changes water temperature, pH, the concentration of nutrients, light intensity (turbidity), etc.; plastics pollutants along ocean lines.
Paper bags are better alternatives. Right disposal and recycling is paramount to curb this pollution.
Mass mortality of some keystone species can affect biodiversity, even in the ocean. Keystone species are like predators that keep the population of smaller organisms along a food chain in check.
Besides industrial waste and pollutants that affect sea animals and keystone species, overfishing can be another factor. Commercial fishery and aquaculture should be encouraged and better laws put in place to prevent indiscriminate fishing.
The Kainji dam in Nigeria can also have an adverse effect on biodiversity as it hinders migration and cross-breeding. Solar energy and other sustainable forms of energy should be encouraged and hopefully in the near future, the dam will be removed.
Biodiversity in the forest reduces as population increases and demand for land for agriculture, infrastructure and industrialization increases.
The importance of the forest is enormous, from food to medicine, clothing, housing, job creation, oxygen (28% of the earth’s oxygen), etc. It is not just the plant species but other species that depend on the plants for survival.
Indiscriminate falling of trees can affect animals that feed solely on that kind of tree- remember the bamboo trees and giant pandas (the bamboo constitutes 98% of the panda’s diet, and without it, the panda is likely to starve and die), and also put animals using the tree as habitat in danger.
Encroaching into the forest has brought man closer to zoonotic viruses (SARS 2-corona virus is a typical example).
The protection of the forest is a national goal. Laws should be passed to prevent forest exploitation and deforestation. The trading of endangered plant species should be stopped. Reforestation programmes should be celebrated-support plant lives: one dies, plant five.
Awareness of alternative forms of energy in rural communities that depend solely on firewood and charcoal is a good step. More forest reserves should be kept.
As to urbanization, constructing a road within a forest can separate an animal population and stop migration, leading to inbreeding depression. A camouflage flyover having forest features would be a great step in putting species into consideration.
Hunting of animals especially keystone species like male elephants, for ivory should be prohibited. Endangered species should be protected dearly.
The transition from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases like cancer is drawing our attention to the atmosphere as environmental exposure to carcinogenic substances is a major cause of cancer.
Human effect on global Climate Change through the emission of CO2 should be greatly reduced if we want to live longer and enjoy our stay. Cleaner fuels should be used, and preferably, a change from fossil fuels to other sustainable forms of energy like solar energy should be an incorporated national goal.
Climate change is also changing the temperature of some regions, breaking ice, rising sea levels and endangering organisms found within the polar region.
The earth has a way of balancing itself, for example, the ocean and forest keeping CO2 in check, but we should not push it to a point where it would not regain from stress for example, by increasing CO2 emission and reducing the species that keep the balance.
Every component of the Earth is interdependent, and we all need each other. We should take the responsibility of caring for nature as it cares for us.