The state of our environment is a real worry and I have some statistics to justify.Human consumption habit is leading us down a destructive path. The startling fact that global consumption is one-and-a-half times the planet’s carrying capacity comes as we celebrated World Environment Day recently. Its “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care” theme serves as a warning that we have taken the planet we live on for granted consuming far more than it can provide. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) headquartered in Gigiri Kenyan Capital Nairobi, has predicted that by 2050, with consumption and production patterns unchanged and the world population reaching a staggering 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our ways of living and consumption.And by the year 2050, people could be devouring about 150 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year unless economic growth is decoupled from the rate of natural resource use. This means that our future depends on how responsible we are in managing natural resources.There is no doubt that worsening traffic snarls in poorly connected, sprawling cities, population pressures along our much-loved coastlines,degradation of productive rural land and major declines in native wildlife as well as the growing global challenge of rising greenhouse gas emissions are affecting our environment several.
The major gaps in our knowledge and monitoring across many areas, the World has failed to properly manage what it can’t measure.While few countries have recognized the need to protect productive land, others continue to lose it to urban expansion, a direct consequence of the high rate of population growth, compounded by urban development policies encouraging further sprawl.That sprawl in turn contributes to one of key factors causing countries to have the high rates of greenhouse gas production. Population density of urban areas has brought extremely inefficient urban transport systems, with inadequate public transport and high dependence on private cars.In Sub Saharan Africa, the pressures on coastal areas continues to be driven by unusually high rate of population growth, augmented by social and economic changes that are driving people from inland regions.Despite the recent expansion of energy systems, African countries still get most of their electricity from burning high-emissions fossil fuels. Many of global resources are at critical points, pressed by craving for economic development amid high population growth. But some end up wasted. One-third of all food produced globally each year, or some 300 million tons, ends up in the trash, costing the global economy about US$1 trillion each year while the discarded food is still fit for human consumption and could feed more than 800 million people or more than three quarters of Africa’s population.
Energy, while it is at the heart of most critical economic and development issues, is blamed for speeding up the devastation of environment as demand will continue to grow in coming years. If millions of air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions and other electrical appliances are made as energy efficient as possible, money will be saved, air will be cleaner from pollution and climate change impacts can be significantly reduced. International Energy Agency recent reports estimates that boosting energy efficiency alone would not only lower global energy demand by more than ten percent, but also save $560 billion, a huge amount of money that could be used to lift millions out of poverty and improve education and health in the next 15 years.The only option is for the World is to rethink lifestyles to reduce collective impacts on the planet. State-of-the-art technology and solutions are out there to help guarantee our future well-being and prosperity without having to cost the planet. Home to over one billion people, Africa is not free from the devastation and the African Union should take the lead in changing consumption patterns. African countries should also join the global trend of green economy by enforcing related strategies, from shifting investment and policies to clean technologies to applying resource-efficient infrastructure.Africans themselves can contribute to the movement simply through changing lights to fluorescent bulbs, using reusable water bottles or car pooling. The World can’t afford to continue taking the destructive path for our environment.