I was tempted to begin this post on a self-righteous note, condemning the human race for allowing the near extinction of the white rhino species. RIP Sudan. Rest with the Dodo birds. However, I will not be pursuing that agenda. What I will be doing though is bringing to your attention the subject that is: The ENVIRONMENT.
Here’s part of what the good people over at www.merriam-webster.com describe ‘environment’ as:
Definition of environment
1: the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded
2a: the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (such as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival
b: the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community
Let’s focus on 2a shall we? The environment encapsulates the physical features we learnt about in primary school Social Studies through to Geography, Biology, Chemistry and Physics in Secondary School. Now, it would be easy to dismiss matters pertaining the environment as belonging to the students of the eco-system, environmental science and what have you. It is terribly important to understand that holding such a view is terribly unfortunate not only to the entire community within which the holder exists, but also to the holder him/herself.
Chapter 5 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 (our new constitution) is dedicated entirely to Land and Environment. This read together with acts of parliament including the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), 1999 stipulate the proper ways of managing and using the environment responsibly and equitably. The EMCA forms and gives power to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) as the authority mandated to oversee all matters pertaining environmental use and management. This includes the forests- while working closely under the direction of the Ministry of Forestry & Wildlife- rivers, pollution of all forms including air pollution by noise and/or illegal billboards.
Enough of the background structures of the law. What does this mean to you and me? What is our place in environmental protection? I remember being taught that one of the characteristics of a good citizen is RESPONSIBILITY. Where a person is responsible enough to try and rectify where he/she thinks issues are being handled poorly, then we have a model citizen. Now, I am not trying to be one of those people who find fault in all things but, it is apparent we have lost this characteristic when it comes to environmental affairs. How often do you idly throw that biscuit wrapper right after finishing the last piece? How often are plastic bottles thrown out of the windows of moving cars without a care in the world? Picture this; you throw out this litter onto the road, a wild animal e.g. a baboon picks it up and before long, it’s in the watering hole in a game reserve. Fast forward, zebras die due to plastic-clogged digestive systems and we have to count yet another species extinct. On our watch.
In celebration of The International Day of Forests (March 21st), I ask that you show the environment some love. Take care of her and she’ll take care of you.