June 5, marked World Environment Day 2020, on the theme: “Biodiversity - Time for Nature”.
In Ghana, the national theme for the commemoration, which was under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ghana Wildlife Society, was: “Protect Biodiversity: Our Survival Depends on It”.
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have pushed some issues to the back burner, although we cannot deny the fact the environment is intrinsically linked to life itself. The axiom: ‘When the last tree dies, the last man dies” is an apt interpretation of this fact.
However, human activities tend to indicate a blatant rejection of this fact, leading to all kinds of pollution of the environment.
Forms of pollution that quickly come to mind include galamsey, with its attendant destruction of land and water bodies, filth, deforestation, the dangerous reclamation and destruction of wetlands, unregulated sand winning, noise and air pollution.
Galamsey does not only pollute rivers and other water bodies with the use of deadly chemicals such as mercury, cyanide and other poisonous chemicals but also leaves death traps for the miners themselves and farmers in the mining communities.
Of course, our teeming unemployed youth must find work to do, but the question is: for how long must we continue with the lawlessness and the sheer impudence displayed by these miners in their quest to eke out a living?
The Ghana Water Company, for instance, is unable to meet its maximum treatment capacity due to the pollution and siltation of the rivers with mud and chemicals. The company is being forced to shut down some of its plants, while others operate below capacity of between 40 and60 per cent.
There is a strong correlation among water scarcity, unclean water and disease and this makes it critical to improve accessibility to promote good health. Yet most economic ventures or activities do not value the essential services provided by freshwater ecosystems, resulting in the unsustainable use of water resources and ecosystem degradation.
However, there seems to be some contention that the environment seems to have benefited slightly from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the world together fighting the pandemic through the lockdowns and other restrictive safety protocols. To those who have that contention, nature seems to be busy reclaiming its spaces in the absence of the constant flurry of human activities.
Already, people dread the return to the noisy activities of some churches, come Sunday, with the ease of restrictions on churches from yesterday. Others wish the ban on drinking spots and eateries would hold for more time to enjoy the prevailing quiet and peaceful environment.
This notwithstanding, The Mirror believes that it is important to continue to remind ourselves of the need to develop positive attitudes towards the environment. We must also not lose sight of the fact that the environment exists to serve our sustenance. It, therefore, behoves all to ensure its protection and make it self-sustaining and safe.
Continuous education is highly essential and The Mirror wishes to harp on this fact to help ensure some lifestyle changes in order not to take nature for granted and put less burden on the environment.
Certainly, protecting our environment is a responsibility we all share, for healthy communities make happy and progressive nations.