Environment Today

The global environment is changing at a rate never seen before. With the human population already at seven billion and still continuing to expand, especially in Africa, Asian countries and Latin America, things cannot remain the same. Our urban centres and cities are suffering from overcrowding as more people are moving to towns to seek a better life. With this comes all manner of pollution. Solid waste menace is one of them. Municipalities are having a tough time coping with huge volumes of solid waste generated on a daily basis. These wastes end up in dumping sites; where there is little or no recycling done on them. The result is an environment that is highly polluted .Use of plastic bags has aggravated the situation further since they are not biodegradable.

US Environment Protection Agency photograph

Nations are struggling to feed their populations. Hunger and malnutrition is still lingering on, one year after the Millennium Development Goals expired.The Sustainable Development Goals are now on course. The purpose is to enable implementation of sustainable development agenda post 2015.It calls on nations to realign their development objectives with environmental conservation and management, so that adverse environmental damages are tackled while ensuring improved living standards for the people. Will the Sustainable Development Goals work? How are they going to be implemented? Will nations manage to fund these projects on their own, especially the developing countries?

Meanwhile, climate change is already a reality. Precipitation patterns, distribution and quantities have changed considerably. It is no longer easy to predict rainfall as before. Droughts and floods are common. It is a case of extremes. There is also global temperature rise which is melting ice sheets at the poles and on The Alps, The Everest. Result is sea level rise that is threatening the future of islands and low-lying coastal areas. Stabilizing these temperatures will require a lot of cooperation from all the countries, whether big or small, developed or developing. It will definitely take centuries before results are realized. Sacrifices will have to be made and above all, humans will have to adapt to the changes. How do we for instance, build our homes to withstand these extremes? Would a country like Kenya manage to feed its citizens when rains fail completely? Have we built the capacities of the most vulnerable people in our society, such as those living in arid and semi arid areas? Do they have alternative sources of livelihood other than pastoralism?How about our dependence on hydroelectric power, would we manage to power our homes and industries if water levels in our dams reached the lowest levels, or possibly dried out completely?

Tackling environmental challenges of the 21st century and beyond should concern every government, multilateral corporations, donor agencies and not to forget people like you and me. We all have a role to play. Our environment needs us, but we need it the most.

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 bosuri18@gmail.com/bosuri@yahoo.com _ 0723 692048

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beryl is a fourth year student at Maasai Mara University, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science (specializing in environmental conservation and management). She is the current secretary of Maasai Mara University Wildlife and Environmental Club.

During her attachment at Nairobi City County, department of environment, she got exposed to the environmental challenges facing the city of Nairobi and how they are being tackled. She had the opportunity to work in environmental planning and management, solid waste management and the parks departments of the county office.

Rusty Radiator Awards, 2014 – SAIH

SAIH – The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund are at it again at rustyradiator.com 🙂

In their video, did you recognize any familiar stereotypes about how the African continent tends to be portrayed, and the image of the “white hero” and the “exotic other”?

Hunger and poverty is ugly, and it calls for action. However, they argue, that we need to create engagement built on knowledge, not stereotypes. We need to change the way fundraising campaigns are communicating issues of poverty and development. This is why they are awarding creative fundraising campaigns with the Golden Radiator Award, and stereotypical campaigns with the Rusty Radiator Award. An international jury has nominated seven videos, and the winners are chosen through an internet poll. What are you waiting for? Go and vote now.

Not sure how to vote? Read a little  first to get you in the mood.

Environmental Effects of Hydro-Power

Environmental concerns over massive dams have risen over the years. Although hydro-electric power is generally seen as an environmentally clean source of power as it does not release harmful emissions of greenhouse gasses as in the burning of fossil fuels in thermal plants notwithstanding its impact on natural water channels is quite considerable.

"Akosombo Dam is spilling water, Ghana" by ZSM - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Akosombo_Dam_is_spilling_water,_Ghana.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Akosombo_Dam_is_spilling_water,_Ghana.JPG

“Akosombo Dam is spilling water, Ghana” by ZSM. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The construction of dams has affected over 77 percent of the annual discharge of the large rivers in the northern third of the world. Many studies show that there are approximately 36,000 dams over 15 metres (45 feet) high that, when full, contain about 20 percent of the annual runoff (rainfall not absorbed by soil) for the globe. While offering some benefit to humans, these dams have reduced the ability of rivers to transport water and sediment to the ocean. This change affects the ecology of rivers as well as the biology of the oceans receiving the river water.

Some of the oldest dams have stopped functioning because their reservoirs have filled with huge amounts of sediment. Dams also block the passage of fish and other aquatic animals upstream to spawning grounds.

Dams alter the water temperatures and microhabitats downstream. Water released from behind dams usually comes from close to the bottom of the reservoirs, where little sunlight penetrates. This frigid water significantly lowers the temperatures of sun-warmed shallows downstream, rendering them unfit for certain kinds of fish and other wildlife. Natural rivers surge and meander, creating small pools and sandbars that provide a place for young fish, insects, and other river-dwelling organisms to flourish. But dams alter the river flow, eliminating these microhabitats and, in some cases, their inhabitants.

Finally, dams also prevent nutrient-laden silt from flowing downstream and into river valleys. Water in a fast-moving river carries tiny particles of soil and organic material. When the water reaches a pool or a flat section of a river course, it slows down. As it slows, the organic matter it carries drops to the river bottom or accumulates along the banks. Following heavy rains or snowmelt, rivers spill over their banks and deposit organic matter on their floodplains, creating rich, fertile soil. Some of the organic matter makes it all the way to river mouths, where it settles into the rich mud of estuaries, ecosystems that nourish up to one-half of the living matter in the world’s oceans. Large dams artificially slow water to a near standstill, causing the organic matter to settle to the bottom of the reservoir. In such cases, downstream regions are deprived of nutrient-laden silt.

 –          Ola Olaniyan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ola Olaniyan is an architect and currently a postgraduate student of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. A dedicated conservationist and environmentalist, he is one of the pioneers of Green Hope Africa an initiative for Physical/Biodiversity Conservation in Africa. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Architecture as well as Master of Architecture from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

Pollution in Pictures from Olonde Omondi

Olonde Omondi offers 4 more images with a hard-hitting environmental theme. Olonde Omondi has a Diploma in Graphic Design and enjoys expressing himself in a variety of styles all based on realistic interpretation of our world. Major areas of interest include cartoons and caricature, graphic art and illustration as well as painting. Art history and poetry also play substantial roles in his art.

Creative Commons License
This work by Olonde Omondi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this licence are available from smudgetrial2 AT yahoo.com.

Olonde Omondi draws recycling

A holder of a Diploma in Graphic Design, Olonde Omondi enjoys expressing himself in a variety of styles all based on realistic interpretation of our world. Major areas of interest include cartoons and caricature, graphic art and illustration as well as painting. Art history and poetry also play substantial roles in his art.

Creative Commons License
This work by Olonde Omondi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this licence are available at smudgetrial2 AT yahoo.com.