Environment is man’s immediate surrounding and man in his exploration and innovation has always been tempering with his/her environment there by causing harm to the environment in his causes to making life easy and meaningful for its existence such as the exploration of crude oil, gold mining and other natural minerals in his environment, which in turns creates danger to live stocks and crops during exploration, mining and excavation. This researcher has taken it upon himself to know what the necessary compensations are due to the inhabitants living in that society if any, and if the compensation are really measurable enough to elevate the standard of living of the dwellers in that society if any, and if the compensations are really measurable enough to elevate the standard of living of the dwellers in that locality the necessary rules, laws and penalties stipulated for defaulters who refuse to pay or make the necessary implementations for such cases, and what the government of the federal republic of Nigeria has in her constitution about the environment and there that are alleged to be degrading this environment with their industries.
- THE NATURE OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
History and science both seemed to agree that before the advent of man, the environment already existed, and it’s therefore logical to rationalize that the environment proceeded man’s human technologies and scientific development. It’s rightly by who postulated that this environment before the advent of man was pure and inspolled as was discerned from biblical records, when God created the sun total of what was conceived as the environment. He saw that it was good, man therefore inherited a good environment and was constituted as a superior being to conquer all the earthly natural resources, but not to destroy, pollute or degrade the natural resources that were created for the same superior beings existed. The occurrence some natural include such as earthquakes and draught, which causes harm to natural environment, though the natural environment has inbuilt mechanism to absolve and eliminate some of the harm which originally occur in nature. The intensification of the various activities of man has caused a shift in this natural mechanism by including and increasing the rate at which these incidents occur.
The above stem from the perspective of modern environmental imprudence, its known from the beginning of mans creation, that man has been dependent on the earths ecosystem to provide him with the means of sustenance air to breath, food to eat, water to drink and other natural resources to advance quality of life. In other words, man’s basic needs are hinged upon good clothing and shelter. These are entirely derived from land for life depends on it. The principle of quid plantator solo-solo cedit, presupposes that land consist of the surface of the earth, the soil and air space above it as well as all things, which are permanently attached to the soil. And it also includes steams and ponds. Man, being owe of the most inhabitant of the world has his existence hinged on the reservoir of resources within his immediate surrounding for his own sustenance, he exploits the environment for all his needs. However, in this attempt to actualize his dreams of existence, the magnetite of his intrusion on the supporting web of the environment is generating an alarm that cannot be ignored, because very existence of man is threatened to the cord. The consequences of the above situation are the large scale degradation that has been and is still being done to the environment.
- MEANING OF ENVIRONMENT
Section 38 of the federal environment protection agency act defines environment as including water, air, land and all human beings and animals living therein and the inter-relationship which exist between them. This means in essence that life depends on the environment. Contrary to the attitude and believe of most people in developing countries that their lives or livelihood depends entirely on their immediate neighborhood. It’s now being realized that environment extends beyond peoples vicinity to another circles of the earth. It follows that environment is an umbrella word that embraces all the vital elements required for life to exist.
- CONCEPT OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
In the environment, there exists a chain which comprises all the constituents in a relationship that in complex. The chain begins with the simplest elements to the most component in the environment. The activities of each of the constituent are regarded as the existence of some other fact or which ensures that a balance is maintained in the natural set up. The existence of man and his dependence on the resources in his immediate vicinity for sustenance has drawn so much from the natural store of resources that there is now an in-balance in the natural set up, and as the population of human race increases, the demands they make on the natural resources also multiply.
Thus, this results in a continuous depletion in the available resources, in the absent of adequate or considerable efforts at conservation or replacement of the stock. This exploitation of natural resources portend a bleak future for creation, yet unborn. As a matter of fact, there is no activity that is engaged in by man for his own sustenance and advancement that does not have an effect on the various interactions existing among the constituents of the environment. Environmental degradation consists essentially in pollution in all ramifications, that is, it consists of any undesirable changes in the natural characteristics of the environment or the constituent. It ranges from the waste generated and carelessly dumped by various house holds to farming operation where the natural land is destroyed and chemical such as pesticides and inorganic fertilizers are unleashed on the environment. It extends to various scientific laboratories power generating centres and industrial sites where harmful emission and waste are released into the environment. Others are construction of structures without appropriate authorization and/or compliances with health regulation, also not left out arte the various bills boards that litters and deface the natural surroundings. This bits and pieces then come together to cause gravious environment problems for the entire vicinity, state, country.
The federal environmental protection agency act (known as FEPA)33 under section 38 defined pollution as a means/meaning “manmade or man aided alteration chemical, physical ort biological quality of the environment to the extent that is detrimental to the environment or beyond acceptable limits and “pollutants” shall be constructed accordingly. Thus any undesirable alteration in the composition or states of the environment as to make it unable to satisfactorily perform its natural roles which amounts to environmental degradation. This is irrespective of whether such alteration was naturally induced or was a product of man’s creation. All that is needed is the occurrence of any state or condition in the environment that will impede it from being suitable for the purpose that it was naturally suited for whenever this situation results damage is said to have being caused to the environment.
Middlation in Atlas of environment issue oxford university press 19885 it has been reported that more than 11 million hectare of forest are destroyed every year by acid rain.
- THE SOURCES OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
There are various causes of environmental degradation and damage to the natural environment. These factors that results in the destruction of the environment emanates fro the activities of nature itself, which are man, animals, and other elements that are present in the environment., however, all the factors can be broadly categorized into two namely.
- The natural sources
- the artificial sources
- Natural Sources
The are some natural factors which on their own lead to degradation to the environment as earlier pointed. Quite often, there factors are normally taken care of by the natural environment, which provides certain safe guards to check any serious harm that may be the consequence of such activities. The incidence in the case of soil erosion, whether by rain or by wind is a natural act which occur on its own, when it occurs, there is a resultant washing away of the soil starting from the top soil, through to the subsoil. In very serious cases the whole layer of the top soil is washed away resulting in to what is known as short erosion.
No matter the type of erosion, the result is damage to the environment. However, nature has its own mechanism of controlling soil erosion and protecting the environment from damage. It ensures that its not left out bare by providing regetation, lives the soil shelter from the direct impart, plant roots holds the soil parties together to form soil aggregate, thereby improving on the soil structure which makes it, less likely for serious erosion to occur. In this way, the severity of erosion is put under control, but with continuous destruction of natural vegetation by man in his bid to satisfy his own wants, this natural protection of the soil is disappearing fast. The result has been a wide spread occurrence of soil erosion allover the world. This intern has heard the effect of causing immeasurable damages to the environment and amount others, destroying the natural landscape.
Another natural factor is the rapid desertification of the world land area. This often result in areas known as arid and semi arid zones because of the low and unreliable precipitation rate. In this place, vegetable growth in minimal as a result of low moisture that is available. Consequently, the soil is bare and dry thereby exposing it to be weather element of wind, which blooms across it unhindered. This loosen the soil particles to produce the friable (easily chattered) soil structure essentially sandy and agriculturally, useless. Dissertation is a vain enhanced by man through its activities or over growing the land, continuous tillage and deforestation, all of which only remove the vegetation cover and exposes the soil elements weather earthquakes and volcanic eruption are naturally other factors that have serious effect on the environment. Earthquakes which is the sadden violent movement of the earth surface often result in land slides occurring. This destroys the land and all that is contained in it including human lives, buildings and vegetations. It also destroys the natural topography of the land. Volcanic eruption is the emitting of some molten inorganic lava from the “belly” of the earth, which forces its way to the surface and result in serious environmental degradation or damage. The molten lava flows from the belly of the earth to the surface to form extrusive igneous rock. During the eruption, many harmful gases may be emitted into the environment, thereby destroying or causing serious danger to life. A gain, man in the process of carrying out some of his activities such as mining for mineral ones and building of dams for irrigation, does induce the occurrence of these otherwise natural phenomenon.
- The Artificial Sources
These are the major sources of environmental degradation. They comprises of all activities that are injurious to the environment which does not have an origin, that is, which in orchinary cases of event would not have occurred. There are many artificial sources of environmental degradation (damage), through they all have one common denominator “man”. This is because man is the single and most important actor in the environmental scene. It is various efforts of making life more comfortable for himself have a direct impact in the environment and all other factors of degradation. Some of the activities of man which does causes degradation to environment are:
- House and Chores
In the causes of carrying out its domestic activities in the hjouse, daily, man creates a lot of waste product and garbage which he discharge in the environment. The amount of house hold waste produced by man is such that if not properly disposed off, its impact on the environment will be unwholesome. In Nigeria for instance, the volume of house hold waste which is indiscriminately disposed of has led to the blocking of drainage and river channels. The result has being the occurrence of flood disaster lives and property were lost as was the case in “Ogunpa” river flood disaster in Ibadan in 1980 where lives were lost and property destroyed. In addition, waste from house hold which includes human excrement when not taken care of could have a repulsive small because of the harmful gas as Amonia sulfur (v) oxide and hydrogen sulphide it emits especially during decomposition. House hold waste particularly human excrement when disposed in water having marine life does result in the contamination of such organisms which feeds on it, making it unsuitable for human consumption,. Also some diseased condition maybe caused to livestock for example cattle, when they infest food contaminated with human feaces containing the eggs of tapeworm.
- Agricultural Operation
This entails the tilling of the soil for crop husbandry and keeping of animals use of men. With the increase of human population, there is intensification of agricultural activities to meet the increasing food demand of the teeming population. This intensified farming has meant a continuous cropping of the sea piece of land over time as a result of scarcity of virgin forest for cultivation. It has also meant the growing of one crop on a large expense of land on which the crop species do best. This has lead to the cineaste in the incidence of pests, animals, and diseases attack on such crops, coupled with the rapid depletion of the nutrients available to the crop on such soil. The responses of man was being engaged in the application of various chemicals such as pesticides, fumigates and inorganic fertilizers on such farms to address the problems. The pesticides apart from being harmful to man if directly inhaled or infested by him have some other harmful effects on the environment. Also, the fe4rtilizer when the requisite nutrients has been taken by the soil the remaining may make the soil become acidic, therefore becoming unsuitable for crop cultivation.
Agriculture also enhanced the occurrence of other environmental hazards such as erosion and desertification by causing the removal of the soil cover through tillage operation and over grazing of land. It also destroys the structure thereby making the land unsuitable for other purposes.
The natural forest is a source of many useful products. Its provides home for numerous wild life, which provides bush meat and other product for man. The woods from the trees are used as a source of fuel as well as timbers for furniture and other requirement. The forest also serves as a windbreaker and vegetation cover to protect the soil against the erosion. More importantly, the forest play a very prominent role in the precipitation process and in the important “carbon circle” a break in which the existence of man will be endangered. The rapid destruction of the forest, through farming and other activities of man is causing much damage to the environment by depriving it of the importance roles that the forest plays in the stabilization of the ecosystem.
- Hunting for Game and Over Fishing
In the natural food cycle, a chain exist which ensures that an equilibrium is maintained in the ecosystem. This prevents the over population of some organisms and the extinction of some others. But with the continuous hunting of some animals for food and other uses by man, the population of some of them is nearly extinct thus denying the environment that benefit of their natural roles in the ecosystem. The threat to the African elephant has made the world wild life fund to launch a campaign to stop it being hunted so as to save it from extinction.
- Commercial Activities
There are various commercial act carried out by men especially with the advancement in technology and the means of transportation, so many advertisement such as billboards, handbills, etc litter the environment which are an eye sore to other nations. In addition, a large amount of waste is produced from the various commercial transactions, thereby adversely causing serious effect to the environment. Particularly, in the indiscriminate use and disposal of cellophane bags.
The advancement of scientific knowledge has led to the industrialization of the society with the aim of making life more comfortable for man by producing most of those goods efficiently and in adequate quantity. This has resulted in the growth of many industries concerned, which produce wastes that are harmful to the environment. Toxic emission from industries which burn fuels and even motors have devastating effects on the life farm when inhaled. Acid rains are a nightmare to those who live in the vicinity of industries that fenerates some toxic emissions. The discharge of untreated industries wastes effluents into the streams have been known to kill marine life and damage crops irrigated with water from such streams. Wastes from substances, such as mercury and its compound effects human, plants and animals life. The extent of the dangers of mercury was realized by the Japanese in 1986, when one industry processing methyl mercury discharged its waste into a lake, and it resulted in the death of thousands of villagers who ate fish from the lake.
Their women gave birth to deformed children poisonous gas leakages have there deadly effects mark the 20th anniversary of the poisonous gas leakage from, the union carbide cooperation.
With industrialization and urbanization, many people/flock to urban centres for greener pastures. These results in the population explosion in those centres which means an increase in the amount of waste product and in the other activities that bores on the environment. The result is the emission of carbon-dioxide and other dangerous gases into the urban atmosphere. The dense population makes the land to be sufficiently for all. The result is that all sorts of shanks are built on the open spaces to serve as accommodation. These not only deface the environment, but also could lead to soil erosion where channels are blocked.
- Power Station
These include hydroelectric power station, thermal station, and nuclear sites. The vibration produced at these stations is enormous, such that it disturbs the environment and inconveniences lies around such sites. In nuclear sites, there are lots of ruche-active materials which takes many years to become harmless. Accidents can occur at the nuclear station which will normally cause considerable destruction to life and property. The Second World War is gruesome reminder of the devastation caused by atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The more recent chemical disaster in Russia in 1986 has left 16 kilometer arching of the environment with in the nuclear reactor site desolate.
However, no life forms, flora or fowna is in the area any more and a lot of persons and livestock even in the neighboring country were exposed to an unprecedented level of reaction and either died or had to be destroyed.
- Petroleum Pollution
The industrialization of the world has petroleum, a priced commodity. However, the exploitation of the commodity has made many harmful effect on the environment. The incident of petroleum pollution is common especially in area here its found. Cases of oil spillage are formed, which often pollutes rivers, streams and farm land, making them unsuitable for biotic life. During transportation process oil pollution has occurred in the high sea area where either there is an accident or the vessel carrying the oil had some problem. It has been estimated that over 3.5 million tons of oil is released into the oceans annually in the world.
There have been many reported cases of oil pollution in Nigeria. On the 17th of jolly 1980, there was a Texaco funiwa, fire oil blow out in Nigeria in Niger-Delta, and it was curtailed after 30 days at which it has conflict fire, for some hours, about 200, 00 barrels of oil were lost far villages including fishes in the town of funiwa and segama river were polluted and 350 hectares of land destroyed. Again, on the 2nd of November 1982, the Abudo oil pipeline spillage occurred when a pale loader belonging to bronelli Construction Company accidentally ripped a hole in the Nigeria national petroleum cooperation (NNPC) under ground corche oil pipe line. The oil flowed from it to nearly villages and polluted their land and water leading to crop with erring and drying up, death of marine life and soils. Yet another oil spillage occurred at Upheli in July 1984 from a field which took six days to curtail when it had polluted neighboring rivers and villages. Another is the koko incident, in delta State June 1988 where 3,888 tons of assorted toxic waste from Italy where found to have been illegally dumped at the fishing ports of koko lea cheats which oozed from the topic substances caused extensive ecological damage.
Further long-term degradation to the health of the village is still being feared. There was also the Jesse fire disaster on October 17th 1998, where over 100 lives and property were destroyed. Also on the 12th of January 1999, the idotio spillage in Akwa-Ibom State occurred, which affected twenty communities cutting across states, and there had been reported cases scattered around the country of oil pipe leakage causing massive destruction to the environment and lives. The flaring of natural gas has led to an increase in the temperature of gas producing communities and destruction of the biotic life as in the case of Niger Delta in Nigeria. Other artificial sources of environmental degradation are war, irrigation and drainage.
However, the fundamental causes of environmental degradation discussed above are not exhaustive, though it shows that the onus lies on the individuals to protect their environment. Therefore an environmentally aware populace is an essential pre-requisite for attaching environmental protection.
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