ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION: A DYNAMIC INTERPLAY OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND ICT RELATED ACTIVITIES
August 26, 2016 by Kenneth Samuel, http://www.projectplus.com.ng/
Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable (Johnson, et al).
Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) refers to the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the fields of socioeconomic development, international development, and human rights. The theory behind this is, more and better information and communication furthers the development of a society. Aside from its reliance on technology, ICT4D also requires an understanding of community development, poverty, agriculture, healthcare, and basic education. This makes ICT4D appropriate technology, and if it is shared openly, open source appropriate technology (Zelenika and Pearce, 2013).
Environmental degradation is the disintegration of the earth or deterioration of the environment through consumption of assets, for example, air, water and soil; the destruction of environments and the eradication of wildlife. It is characterized as any change or aggravation to nature’s turf seen to be pernicious or undesirable. Ecological effect or degradation is created by the consolidation of an effectively substantial and expanding human populace, constantly expanding monetary development or per capita fortune and the application of asset exhausting and polluting technology. It occurs when earth’s natural resources are depleted and environment is compromised in the form of extinction of species, pollution in air, water and soil, and rapid growth in population (Zelenika and Pearce, 2013).
Environmental degradation is one of the largest threats that are being looked at in the world today. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction characterizes environmental degradation as the lessening of the limit of the earth to meet social and environmental destinations, and needs. Environmental degradation can happen in a number of ways. At the point when environments are wrecked or common assets are exhausted, the environment is considered to be corrupted and harmed. There are a number of different techniques that are being used to prevent this, including environmental resource protection and general protection efforts (Chertow, 2001).
Environmental degradation in Nigeria results from factors such as economic growth, population growth, urbanization, intensification of agriculture, rising energy use and transportation. It is therefore, safe to conclude that environmental changes in Nigeria is a result of the dynamic interplay of socio-economic, institution and technological activities (Alo, 2008; Sule, 1995).
THE OCCURANCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
Environmental changes are based on many factors including:
- i) Urbanization
- ii) Population growth
iii) Economic growth
- iv) Intensification of agriculture
- v) Increase in energy use
- vi) Increase in transportation
In our society, land, water and soil are compromised when people exhaust resources or release harmful chemicals into the air. Deforestation, wasting resources, and pollution all add to the demise of an environmentally-sound and safe planet. For example, when trees in forests are cut down in large quantities, so that more homes can be built on the land, the birds and wildlife who lived in the forest must find a new place to live. The vegetation that once grew on the land is destroyed. Trees that absorbed carbon dioxide to help the biosphere are now unable to do so. If the wood from the trees is used to make products and those products (such as paper) are later recycled, that is one hopeful aspect for the planet. However, sometimes trees are just cut down and burned. This is what is known as slash and burn, a practice that only destroys forests and all that live in them.
CAUSES OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
Some environmental life species require substantial areas to help provide food, living space, and other different assets. These creatures are called area specific. At the point when the biome is divided, the vast patches of living space don’t exist anymore. It gets to be more troublesome for the wildlife to get the assets they need in order to survive. The environment goes on, even though the animals and plant life are not there to help sustain it properly. According Zelenika and Pearce (2013), the following are causes of environmental degradation:
- Land Disturbance: A more basic cause of environmental degradation is land damage. Numerous weedy plant species, for example, garlic mustard, are both foreign and obtrusive. A rupture in the environmental surroundings provides for them a chance to start growing and spreading. These plants can assume control over nature, eliminating the local greenery. The result is territory with a solitary predominant plant which doesn’t give satisfactory food assets to all the environmental life. Whole environments can be destroyed because of these invasive species.
- Pollution: Pollution, in whatever form, whether it is air, water, land or noise is harmful for the environment. Air pollution pollutes the air that we breathe which causes health issues. Water pollution degrades the quality of water that we use for drinking purposes. Land pollution results in degradation of earth’s surface as a result of human activities. Noise pollution can cause irreparable damage to our ears when exposed to continuous large sounds like honking of vehicles on a busy road or machines producing large noise in a factory or a mill.
- Overpopulation: Rapid population growth puts strain on natural resources which results in degradation of our environment. Mortality rate has gone down due to better medical facilities which have resulted in increased lifespan. More population simple means more demand for food, clothes and shelter. You need more space to grow food and provide homes to millions of people. This results in deforestation which is another factor of environmental degradation.
- Landfills: Landfills pollute the environment and destroy the beauty of the city. Landfills come within the city due the large amount of waste that gets generated by households, industries, factories and hospitals. Landfills pose a great risk to the health of the environment and the people who live there. Landfills produce foul smell when burned and cause huge environmental degradation.
- Deforestation: Deforestation is the cutting down of trees to make way for more homes and industries. Rapid growth in population and urban sprawl are two of the major causes of deforestation. Apart from that, use of forest land for agriculture, animal grazing, harvests for fuel wood and logging are some of the other causes of deforestation. Deforestation contributes to global warming as decreased forest size puts carbon back into the environment.
6: Natural Causes: Things like avalanches, quakes, tidal waves, storms, and wildfires can totally crush nearby animal and plant groups to the point where they can no longer survive in those areas. This can either come to fruition through physical demolition as the result of a specific disaster, or by the long term degradation of assets by the presentation of an obtrusive foreign species to the environment. The latter frequently happens after tidal waves, when reptiles and bugs are washed ashore.
Of course, humans aren’t totally to blame for this whole thing. Earth itself causes ecological issues, as well. While environmental degradation is most normally connected with the things that people do, the truth of the matter is that the environment is always changing. With or without the effect of human exercises, a few biological systems degrade to the point where they can’t help the life that is supposed to live there.
EFFECTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
According to Yamin (2005), the following include the effect of environmental degradation:
- Impact on Human Health: Human health might be at the receiving end as a result of the environmental degradation. Areas exposed to toxic air pollutants can cause respiratory problems like pneumonia and asthma. Millions of people are known to have died of due to indirect effects of air pollution.
- Loss of Biodiversity: Biodiversity is important for maintaining balance of the ecosystem in the form of combating pollution, restoring nutrients, protecting water sources and stabilizing climate. Deforestation, global warming, overpopulation and pollution are few of the major causes for loss of biodiversity.
- Ozone Layer Depletion: Ozone layer is responsible for protecting earth from harmful ultraviolet rays. The presence of chlorofluorocarbons, hydro chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere is causing the ozone layer to deplete. As it will deplete, it will emit harmful radiations back to the earth.
- Loss for Tourism Industry: The deterioration of environment can be a huge setback for tourism industry that rely on tourists for their daily livelihood. Environmental damage in the form of loss of green cover, loss of biodiversity, huge landfills, increased air and water pollution can be a big turn off for most of the tourists.
- Economic Impact: The huge cost that a country may have to borne due to environmental degradation can have big economic impact in terms of restoration of green cover, cleaning up of landfills and protection of endangered species. The economic impact can also be in terms of loss of tourism industry.
ICTS POLICY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IN NIGERIA
The use of ICTs for environmental sustainability depends significantly up on the existence of an ICT policy which signifies the official adoption of such technologies. In other words, National adoption of ICTs is a key strategy that allows utilization of ICTs in various sectors for the development and well being of society. Nigerian is one of the countries that adopted of National ICT Environmental Policy. However, the adoption process was preceded by a critical review process upon which various stakeholders, such as government and other influential groups of ICT professionals were involved (Houghton, 2009). Although formal adoption of ICTs is a recent event, such technologies have existed in Nigeria since 1990s. The official adoption came as result of a growing concern for the lack of coordination thereof. This forms a background for the development of an ICT policy framework that allows coordination of ICTs utilization for development. The central purpose of adopting and developing a national ICT policy was to ensure that these technologies are mainstreamed in all sectors to facilitate their deployment at all levels of the society. Drawing from the national ICT policy framework, all sectors are expected to develop specific policies that will influence integration of ICTs respectively.
Studies have shown that, with regard to environmental sustainability sector, there is no stand-alone ICT policy that guides its utilization for environmental sustainability. However, there are several documents that guide environmental sustainability practices in Nigeria. These include an environmental policy whose purpose is to guide all issues pertaining environmental sustainability in the country.
There is no doubt that ICT will progressively continue to be present in all aspects of both private and business life. Empirical evidence shows that ICT has already contributed and will continue to contribute to reduction of resource-intensive lifestyles in many aspects. For example, ICT provides easy-to-use tools that help people decrease their ecological footprint by opting for environmentally sensitive products and services. In this regard, technologies that are used for smart production and recycling have been proved to consume as few resources at every stage of their lifecycle. Moreover, it has been economical energy generation (using renewable resources), distribution and consumption both in households and business/industry (Erdmann et al; 2004). Additionally, intelligent transportation systems and remote collaboration technologies have reduced unnecessary traffic and minimized the energy usage of transportation in general. ICT devices and networks themselves will naturally be highly optimized. All these are the signs of potentialities of ICTs in addressing environmental challenges facing the world today and ensuring its sustainability (Malisa, 2004).
ICTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL OBSERVATION
Environmental observation is one aspect to which ICTs can be applied. In general, environment systems constitute two basic or predominant categories: Aquatic and terrestrial. Whereas aquatic environmental systems are made up of fresh water, wetland, the coastal and marine (ocean), terrestrial systems includes forests, savannah, dry lands or deserts and mountains. ICT tools such as remote sensing, data collection and storage tools, telemetric systems, meteorological and climate related recording and monitoring systems as well as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are capable of data recording and monitoring. Additionally, in developing countries like Tanzania mobile telephones and radio-calls may be used to observe and report wildfires and facilitate the mobilization of communities and other emergency service providers to confront disasters.
Naturally all of the data collected through various means all over the world can be transmitted instantaneously across the world to central repositories via high-speed broadband connections, thus facilitating large-scale data analysis and problem solution. These few examples demonstrate that ICTs can do more in ensuring environmental protection and sustainability.
ICTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS
After collecting and storing environmental data through observation, there are various ICTs tools that can be used for computation and processing in order to perform the analysis. There are ICT tools that can assess the quality of land, soil and water. Some can be used to analyze atmospheric conditions including Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and pollutants, track water quality and availability etc. For example, the use of grid computing and environmental modelling software has been helpful in developing and understanding of environmental complexity and the functioning of the ecosystems (ITU, 2008).
ICTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING
Proper decision making must be based upon available information. Therefore, the environmental information that has been collected through observation and that has been assessed and analyzed using technology becomes relevant for decision making processes, policy formulation and planning. Using ICTs, this process includes classification of various environmental conditions. For example, environmental information to be used in the agricultural sector or forestry and protected areas may be elicited through the use of ICTs (Ospina& Heeks, (2010). Some will be in the areas of biodiversity, industrial pollution or GHG emissions.
This process also helps to anticipate environmental conditions and emergency scenarios. Explaining this further the ITU argues that monitoring systems using ICTs can be established to forecast the impact of natural and human made environmental disasters. For instance, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an important tool used in environmental planning. Any country that is applying for a loan or grant from the World Bank is required to attach environmental planning that has been produced using an EIA. It is evident that ICTs can assist this process, amongst others, through communication with various stakeholders in collecting environmental information.
This paper was set out to explore environmental degradation: a dynamic interplay of socio-economic and ICT related activities. It has been discussed that ICTs constitute a range of potentials to enhance environmental sustainability in Nigeria. These include areas such as environmental studies, observation, analysis, planning, management and capacity building. In the context of Nigeria, such potential are well recognized due to the fact that ICTs have been acknowledged national wide as tools for socio-economic development. Moreover, Nigeria has formed national ICT policy that guides utilization of such technologies to hasted development achievement in various sector.