The Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Ibadan, Professor Godson Ana, is canvassing for a paradigm shift in human attitude to deliver the planet earth from further environmental decadence.
His demand to safeguard the planet is hinged on the increasing human activities over the years that have polluted both the outdoor and indoor air leading to severe consequences on the environment, climate and health.
Other suggestions by the professor were contained in the 499 Inaugural Lecture of the University of Ibadan on “Nature’s Blanket and God’s Heritage in Dis(X)tress: Who’s the deliverer,” which he delivered recently.
The inaugural lecture is the 12th from the Faculty of Public Health and the 1st from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences.
The lecturer described the atmospheric medium or air as the Nature’s blanket and children as God’s heritage. According to him, God’s heritage was the children, who have been most distressed and vulnerable to air pollution according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) with over two million deaths recorded annually.
Given the evolving nature and complexity of the environment, he said it has become obvious that the various components of the ecosystems have been distressed. The magnitude of this stress or stressors, the professor said, was a function of the level of disparity between the observed and the expected in terms of the measurable parameters.
This, he stated, had been highly reflected in various episodes of pollution in the air, water, soil, food and biota, most of which is derived from anthropogenic factors.
The consequence of this, he mentioned, had resulted in grave implications on the health of populations and the climate.
He said: “The impact of air pollution on children can affect pregnancy-related outcomes such as premature birth, low birth weight, intrauterine growth retardation, cognitive dysfunction, decreased intelligence quotient, respiratory outcomes, school absenteeism and birth defects.”
To restore the environment, Ana maintained that there was need for a paradigm shift in people’s attitude towards the environment, adding that the value system must change, and that children must be vanguards of the new movement prepared to take over as captured in the introduction of ‘YES’ clubs in schools.
He urged that parents must as a matter of urgency and priority wake up to their responsibilities of imbibing and entrenching good environmental tennets to their children at the household level in almost a similar manner in which they are concerned about their educational advancement.
According to the university lecturer, environmental education, advocacy and awareness creation must be increased beyond its current modicum level, enjoining the government to recognise the need, initiate the process and implement the development of environmental education at all school levels.
“Knowledge they say, is power. Hence the deliverer of the planet earth from environmental decadence must be armed with requisite and relevant knowledge which is really the panacea. With regards to awareness creation there should be a bill mandating all electronic and print media as well as the social media and different service providers to incorporate environmental messages into their publicity, publication and advertorial platforms,” he said.
The university lecturer also suggested an aggressive campaign and reorientation programme on change in attitude and values system as it bothers on the environment.
This change in attitude and unwholesome practices towards the environment, he said, would contribute to abating the various forms of environmental degradation including air pollution.
“To do this government must engage all media groups, national orientation agencies, provide enabling environment for more mass transit vehicle and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, provide biking and trekking lanes, provide incentives for tree planting, production of biofuels and discourage indiscriminate open burning of refuse and farmlands,” he said.
In view of the increasing burden of air pollution problems and the high prevalence of air pollution related morbidities and mortalities as elucidated by the WHO and other related united nation organs, the professor of environmental health said there was an urgent need for an aggressive and massive manpower training for technical experts in air quality management across all institutions of higher learning especially at the post graduate level.
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