There’s no better time to prioritise environmental science than now
By Olamide Francis
Perhaps because of the many national challenges facing Nigeria and Nigerians, the majority have more pressing things to think about than the environment. We don’t take subjects of environmental science as seriously as other subjects in our society. When I was in university studying environmental science, every time I tell a layman what I am studying, they always think waste collection and management are the only two things available for me when I graduate.
Many people in Nigeria still need reorientation of their mind to realise how big a matter the subject of the environment is. Many people don’t even know that most of the natural disasters they see in the media, claiming lives and livelihood across the world, can be solved by a simple environmental solution.
Environmental science should be taken seriously in Nigeria for several compelling reasons that encompass our country’s unique environmental challenges, socio-economic considerations, and long-term sustainability. The most obvious of the many reasons is because of the richness of our biodiversity. Nigeria boasts a rich biodiversity with unique ecosystems, wildlife, and plant species.
The study of environmental science is crucial for understanding, preserving, and managing this diversity to ensure its survival and prevent the loss of unique species. Let us not even discuss what impact the richness of our biodiversity can make on our economy but imagine the many plants and animal species that can only be found in Nigeria. If we don’t take environmental science seriously, we will soon lose all of these rare species.
Nigeria has a vast amount of arable land for agriculture. Agriculture can be the cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy, providing livelihoods for a significant portion of the population. Environmental science is essential for sustainable agricultural practices that conserve soil fertility, water resources, and biodiversity, promoting long-term food security. There is no way we can make giant strides in agriculture without paying attention to the study of the environment and everything about it.
In addition, Nigeria is a major player in the global oil and gas industry. Environmental science is vital for assessing and mitigating the environmental impacts of oil and gas extraction, preventing oil spills, and addressing contamination issues to protect ecosystems and the health of local communities. There ought to be more investment in environmental science for an oil-rich country and oil-dependent economy like Nigeria.
In addition, Nigeria is facing challenges related to water scarcity and inadequate access to clean water. Environmental science can contribute to sustainable water resource management, pollution prevention, and the development of technologies to address water-related challenges. In many parts of the northern part of the country, access to clean water and sanitation is still beyond the reach of millions. With more investment in environmental science, we can start to gradually solve this fundamental problem.
Also, Nigeria is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including increased temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events. Environmental science provides the necessary tools for studying climate change impacts, developing adaptation strategies, and advocating for global climate action. As I stated in last week’s article, we must stop or limit all international travels to environmental conferences and get back to the drawing board to localise international environmental solutions for Nigerians back home.
Finally, rapid urbanization in Nigeria has led to environmental degradation, deforestation, and increased pollution. The study of environmental science is crucial for developing sustainable urban planning strategies, waste management systems, and green infrastructure to mitigate negative impacts. Populated cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Aba and the like can benefit from the dividend of environmental knowledge.
Also, environmental degradation can have direct consequences on public health. Understanding the links between environmental factors, such as air and water quality, and human health is essential for developing policies and practices that protect the well-being of the Nigerian population.
In conclusion, the study of environmental science in Nigeria is not only a matter of academic interest but a critical necessity for addressing the country’s unique environmental challenges, safeguarding natural resources, promoting sustainable development, and ensuring the well-being of our people for generations to come. Everybody should be an environmentalist for posterity’s sake.
Olamide is a communications professional currently based in London, United Kingdom. He can be reached across social media platforms @olamidefrancis and via firstname.lastname@example.org