…as Rev Martins warns of environmental pollution consequences
A case has been made for a sustainable lifestyle to stem the looming food and energy crises that may arise from the current climate change occasioned by environmental pollution and general mismanagement.
This is the submission at a one-day conference in Lagos on the Preservation of the Environment, themed “Journeying and Listening Together: Energy Crisis and Sustainable Lifestyle for Church and State” which was organized by the Ecology Work Group of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.
Speakers one after another decried the abuse of the environment by man and the inherent danger to man’s wellbeing and the society at large.
Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewole Martins kicked off the discussion when he lamented that many activities of man have given rise to climate change the consequences of which are now staring the society in the face.
He stated that the climate change has manifested itself in varied and unprecedented ways such as heat waves that have led to the uncontrolled forest fires devastating huge swathes of land; progressing desertification; rising sea levels leading to the destructive floods and landslides; chemical and technological pollution leading to depletion of biodiversity and destruction of the ecosystem.
“We are faced with the results of our collective and individual lifestyles and habits that lead to depletion of species of animals and plants and the pollution of the earth, turning it into what the Pope calls the pile of filth”, the clergy noted.
According to him, the conference was the church’s response to the call by Pope Francis some seven years ago when he released his encyclical LAUDATO SI translated to Care for our home. “the document centered on the care for the earth, our common home, environmental pollution challenges and the persistent poverty facing the world.”
Regrettably, Rev. Martins said as the Covid-19 pandemic begins to alleviate, the world is faced with other crises which have local and global dimensions, i.e the energy crisis and the looming food crisis, the impact of which would be huge and unimaginable if necessary steps are not taken and quickly too.
“Should we as a church not be concerned? Should we as a people not worry? We should all be and that is why I hope this conference will provide the platform for strategizing together on what must be done to heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”, he stressed.
In his paper titled “Global Energy and Environmental Crisis”, Prof. Akin Abayomi, the Lagos State Commissioner of Health, who is the Guest Speaker said the energy crisis around the world has led to a concern that the world’s demands on the limited natural resources that are used to power industrial society are diminishing as the demand rises.
The environmental and economic effects of the situation, he highlighted are the increase in the energy and electricity costs with gas prices rising by about 47%; an increase in the cost of doing business; unemployment; global warming, etc.
Prof Abayomi then listed as mitigating equity and global stability, factors such as Overpopulation; War and attacks; wastage; aging energy infrastructure; inequitable consumption, and unexplored renewable energy.
While calling for joint action in Africa, he disclosed that Africa contributes 4% of the global carbon dioxide yet is most affected by climate change as half of every 10 countries affected by extreme weather in 2019 are from Africa.
He said the rising cost of energy is driving the use of alternative energy and that Africa is in a terrible situation as 90 percent of the WestAfrica forest cover has been lost in the last 100 years and Nigeria alone loses 350,000 hectares to destruction yearly.
Buttressing the need for urgent lifestyle changes as the environment is concerned, Prof Abayomi said Lagos is one of the six world cities that are heavily polluted through air pollution, Water pollution, and exposure to lead. He mentioned other cities like Los Angeles, New Delhi, Beijing, London, and Santiago.
To address the environmental challenges, he disclosed that Lagos is committed to improving air quality and that should Lagos achieve the target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), it could prevent 2,800 deaths and 155,000 hospitalizations, reduce 2,300 asthma incidences and save up to $2.3billion annually.
Prescribing solutions to the environmental challenges, he urged the church to be actively involved and use the pulpit to drive advocacy on the need for a sustainable lifestyle. The church he advised should go practical and preach a sustainable lifestyle; going green, reforestation, and preservation of life.
Contributing to the discussion, Dean, Lagos Island Deanery, Rev Father Julius Olaitan, pointed out that there was the need for a dialogue with nature and dialogue with man to resolve the crisis in the environment.
He said there is the need to bring the entire human family together for enlightenment and to see a sustainable lifestyle. Drawing from his experience as parish priest, Rev Olaitan enumerated steps they had taken as a church to reconcile with the environment. Such steps he listed as “Conserving the energy; Use of energy-saving equipment; good maintenance culture; control of scavengers who litter the environment; Reduce reuse and Recycle because concern for the environment is also a concern for life.
In her remark of welcome earlier, Dame Marie Fatayi-Williams, the Coordinator of the Ecology Work Group, gave the rationale behind the conference as part of the efforts of the group to encourage and promote an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
She said the Conference would also help aggregate steps to and mode of execution of activities that will promote healthy living with the environment which apart from human needs is also an instruction from God who is the creator of the earth and the man that lives on the earth.