IF WE COULD STOP TO LOOK, WE WOULD WELCOME ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATION

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‘‘Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.’’ Pablo Picasso.

In today’s world, we are plagued with the burden of want and need, value and worth measurements. It is evident in the choices we make and the promises we fail to keep. The environment has always been a part of us and still will be. But many are yet to understand that.

Their lack of understanding is evident because when I look out of a car window on a busy road, I can see the plastic PET bottles, plastic wraps, to-go Styrofoam or cardboard boxes and rotten food littered on the roads. As you continue on your drive, you will observe that ever so often, hands from public transit buses and private vehicles will emerge from the windows to dump these food waste in different aforementioned containers. The seasoned travellers with experience will throw them out with some dexterity to land on the road shoulders or in the bush. Not so experienced ones or those who could care less about the safety of those coming behind them will just open their hands and allow the trash to fall off casually on the road, where they begin a macabre dance of ricochets with you swerving instinctively to avoid a dangerous situation that had just been thrust upon you.

So many years ago, the motor division of the Federal Ministry of Works, in conjunction with the police, enacted laws requiring motorists, especially commercial drivers to provide trash bins in their vehicles so that trash can remain within until properly disposed of. Most times, it seems the efforts of Environmentalists and Climate Change Mitigation advocates have been making to stem our climate crises are a waste of time. Such laws today are largely ignored and never enforced. We the advocates speak, and no one wants to hear what we say.

I have participated in some discourse with people and merely listened to others that laid sole blame on the government for the dirty state of many parts of our cities. I wonder if these people know that the government does not follow them everywhere, the government does not eat and dump this waste so recklessly down drainage pipes and gutters at night, littering the land, rivers, seas, and oceans. Having said that, the government has made nonsense of the monthly sanitation exercises nationwide by neglecting and, or, failing to pick up and dispose of all junk dredged from gutters. The government has continued to provide open drains without the resources to keep these drains clean and free of harmful parasites. The government has failed to control the amount of dust in our cities and highways, killing off fertile grounds and choking up rivers and streams. So, I really want to shout, to tell them that it is EVERYONE’S responsibility. That like a body and its component parts, every individual in the nation is expected to work to their full capacity so that the whole nation can function. 

There is a very popular saying which I may not be reciting correctly, but here it goes: If every person sweeps the front of their house every time, the streets will be neat and tidy. This saying translates to the individual’s responsibility that is required to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

Environmental Innovation simply put is a specific form of innovation aimed at reducing the impact of products and production processes on the natural environment. It forces companies, governments and individuals – everyone – to think not only of what we produce but how we produce and what the impact of this production is on the environment; the immediate and long term impact. It is the reason we would be more to switch to cleaner energy than debate how long we can continue to burn fossil fuel – the latter would not be an alternative.

At the recent G7 summit, the world leaders of the seven nations in attendance agreed to step up action on climate change and renewed a pledge to raise $100bn a year to help poor countries cut emissions. The leaders also pledged to phase out coal-fired power generation at home and to end funding for new coal-burning power plants in the developing world. They committed to offering developing nations $2.8 billion to help them switch to cleaner fuels.

An impressive move towards addressing the urgency of climate change and one we hope they follow through with but we know more is needed. More countries need to step up and seriously make true on their nationally determined contributions both in the developing world like Nigeria and in the developed world. Innovative Environmentalism calls for approaching the issues affecting our environment in a different way. We cannot afford to work in isolation or place profit over planet. 

Human beings are incredibly intelligent at creating new things that make life easier, it should not be a source of debate that a clean and health environment is a must for a better life. It is however, unfortunate that the sustainable environmental and climate change advocacy have been politicised, romanticised and approached as something that can be debated when the facts are clear as day.

Despite this, a lot of good has been going on around the world. It is important and quite remarkable that a lot of young people have become aware also and have lent their voices in environmental advocacy. A lot of schools in foreign countries have teachers who are environmental advocates teaching their pupils how to measure their carbon footprint and reduce it, which home appliances to use and the length of time in use at a period. Our youthful environmental enthusiasts go as far as depicting their positive campaigns in some cartoons and animation. In doing these they teach us how not to waste resources like water and food. For years we have had lessons on sanitation in our schools in this country, but the most important aspect of such lessons is acting them out. That is why it is very important to laud these people who, through the media, have revolutionised environmental responsibilities and climate change mitigating actions. 

There are technological approaches to this also as applications that can help an individual monitor their carbon footprints are available for download and trusted for efficiency. People are also looking at sustainable ways of living which in most cases, translate to healthy lifestyles and are economically progressive.  These innovative minds have refused to conform to the ‘Not my responsibility’ attitude that a large part of the world is acting out.

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