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Protecting Our Planet: Reflections on World Environment Day 2024

By Abdulwasi Lawal | June 5, 2024  | Researcher Experience climate change

World environment day is a global event initiated by United Nations General Assembly in 1972 during Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment (www.worldenvironmentday.global/about/history). The first celebration took place on June 5, 1973, marking the beginning of an annual event dedicated to sensitize and create awareness about the status of the environment and the impending danger our actions are inviting. This great day is celebrated annually on June 5th. It serves as a memorable event for promoting environmental advocacy and engaging individuals, organizations, and governments in protecting our one and only valuable ecosystem.

Since chemical engineering has been a major factor in industrial processes that contribute to environmental contamination, I have a personal connection to environmental challenges.  I have scrutinized any chemical engineering practices that might harm the environment because I am a student of chemical engineering and I am passionate about protecting the environment. Additionally, I have spent a lot of time and energy developing mitigation strategies for the environmental problems caused by the chemical industry.

World Cleanup Day Flyer 2023 (Bayero University, Kano)

Personal experience

Despite being an undergraduate student, I have made significant strides in the fight against environmental pollution. As the Vice President of the Nigeria Society of Chemical Engineers at Bayero University Kano Chapter, I helped facilitate the first-ever global clean-up day at my university on September 16, 2023.Taking students out of their comfort zones to help clean their dorms and faculty area was a challenging experience, even though they were fully aware that the authorities, not them, were in charge of the task. This event taught me that people should be educated about accepting personal responsibility for the environment because they constantly delegate the task of cleaning up the environment to the authorities or those who charge for their services.       

A group picture of me and my fellow comrades
on World Cleanup Day 2023 at Bayero University, Kano.

I also collaborated with Dr. A.A. Ibrahim, my environmental engineering lecturer, to write a review paper on water pollution and control methods. The publication process for this review is currently underway, and I believe everybody who reads it will become more aware. Writing an influential review paper required a lot of work; in fact, it required several rejections before my supervisor would even consider examining it. It was a fantastic experience, and I learned that writing a review on an environmental topic required a global perspective, involving extensive research from various sources..

 

Importance of World Environment Day

World Environment Day should be a day of thoughtful contemplation, solutions, and concern rather than merely a barrage of social media posts. If you care about environmental protection, every day is World Environment Day. This important day should be celebrated more than festivals, as neither can happen without a healthy ecosystem. World Environment Day encourages individuals to embrace ecologically beneficial habits in their daily lives acting as a wake-up call, source of inspiration, and encouragement. It creates a platform for inspiring positive change and puts a global spotlight on the pressing environmental challenges of our times. This UN international day has become the largest global platform for environmental outreach, with millions of people from across the world engaging to protect the planet (www.worldenvironmentday.global/about/history).

 

Call to action

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that human activity is solely responsible for the observed rise in global temperature that has occurred since the middle of the 20th century (IPCC, 2014). According to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), human activity has caused a 68% decline in vertebrate species populations since 1970 (WWF Living Planet Report, 2020). There is evidence that human activity has severely degraded the environment. People tend to forget that this earth is the only one we have. We are inviting risks into our life if we don't take notice of how quickly the environment is changing. People often dispose of rubbish in river, thinking it will just flow away, but it ultimately affects others downstream. Wealthy families often own multiple cars, considering it a normal lifestyle. However, they fail to realize that each car releases tons of hazardous gas into the atmosphere, but they can reduce harmful emissions by using public transportation. We are the cause of the issue, and the only way to fix it is for us to abandon our customs and protect the environment. This is a more cost-effective approach. Instead of relying solely on science and technology to save the environment, let's do it ourselves

 

 

 

 

 

Specific steps to protect the environment:

  1. Minimize waste by reducing consumption, reusing items and recycling materials.
  2. Limit Single-Use Plastics: Avoid single-use plastic items such as bags, bottles, and straws. Opt for reusable alternatives made from sustainable materials
  3. Use public transportation: Reduce your carbon footprint by using public transportation, carpooling, biking, or walking instead of driving alone.
  4. Plant trees and support reforestation: Trees absorb carbon dioxide and provide oxygen. Participate in tree-planting initiatives and support reforestation projects.
  5. Educate and Advocate

 

Conclusion

World Environment Day is a potent platform for uniting people from all around the world in the battle against environmental issues by raising awareness, spurring action, and generating solutions. Every person has a responsibility to safeguard the environment. Even small adjustments to our habits can have a significant impact. Everyone should remember that Earth is the only place where humans can exist. If we act irresponsibly, thinking the consequences are minor, we should consider the next generation. Where will they live?

 

 

Thumbnail image: World Environment Day downloadable resources

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