AASU On World Environment Day 2014—5 June
Since 1973, people around the world have been celebrating World Environmental Day (WED) with different theme. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 on the day that the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment began.
The Day is to inspire international consciousness and positive deeds for the environment. This year's observance is under the theme: 'Raise your voice, not the sea level' in line with the UN designation of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
As we are marking this important Day, the African continent is faced with key environmental challenges due to mainly the development of new technologies, which has generated an increase in solid mineral mining, oil exploration, an increase in the number of plants and factories, and the overall upsurge in the application of manufacturing tools.
The quality and richness of terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments have been polluted and afterward diminished. Hence it can be prudently said that new developments in industry and manufacturing are the root causes of environmental degradation over the past three decades. This has been exacerbated by rapid population growth, urbanization, energy consumption, overgrazing, over-cultivation of lands and industrial advancements engendered by globalization.
Environmental problems in Africa are therefore partly anthropogenic though the natural causes cannot be overlooked. Africans are not necessarily the progenitors of these problems. The socioeconomic impact of environmental deterioration on Africa continues to pose a major problem to development, stability, and daily lifestyles. Africa has contributed less than any other region to greenhouse gas emissions that are widely held responsible for global warming. But the continent is also the most vulnerable to the consequences.
As a vast arena for the repair and sale of imported secondhand electronicscomputers, fax machines, cellular phones, Palm Pilots, televisions, and a number of other gadgetsAfrica serves as a hub for the advancement of Information Technology. But according to the experts, most of these electronics, about 75 percent in fact, are irreparable and, therefore, stylish junk.
They subsequently end up in landfills and makeshift dumps, but the truth is they are not properly disposed of since Africa lacks the capacity to effectively handle electronic waste. Even more disturbing is that a lot of this waste material is loaded with toxic metals and substances like lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, antimony trioxide, selenium, chromium, and cobalt. When burned, especially those encased in plastic, they emit harmful gases like carcinogenic dioxins and leach chemicals such as barium into the soil.
The toll of deforestation on environment in Africa is, equally, significant. Generally, deforestation occurs when the indigenes clear forests for fuel (firewood), by hunting, agriculture, housing development purposes etc. Deforestation is destructive as it entails removing the forest ecosystem by cutting the trees and changing the structure of the land to suit individual usage. These are some of the causes of famine due to rain shortage and depletion of natural resources.
The above description of the environmental situation in Africa should compel all the daughters, sons of Africa and meaning people worldwide to wake up to the reality of environmental problems confronting the continent which aftermaths can be perilous for future generations. It is, therefore, imperative for us to desist from destructive environmental actions, stop lip service about all this important matters and rather take positive environmental initiatives.
AASU urges on all those who believe that we all face the same challenges and are connected and united by our common goal of a sustainable and prosperous life for all on this planet to relentlessly fight any activity either by human or nature geared at impacting negatively our environment.
AASU calls on the African youth particularly the students to use this occasion to:
undertake activities aimed at creating awareness among the general populace on environmental problems;
organize clean up campaigns;
embark on tree-planting drives, social media campaigns and different contests and
develop long term strategies and plan of actions to combat environmental degradation
Long live World Environment Day!