Environmental Preservation - Protecting our future
A new push in the effort to promote a greener Earth is centered on the concept of environmental preservation. Environmental preservation refers to the concerted efforts of governments, companies, and various other institutions to protect environments and ecosystems from damage and exploitation by setting them aside or declaring protection and limits over them so that they cannot be used in any way, shape or form unless usage pertain to activities that are harmless such as tourism and recreation. In particular, a key tenet of environmental preservation is the limitation of destructive human activities such as mining, logging, over-fishing, hunting (to extinction of a certain animal species) and other related activities.
The logic or ethic behind environmental preservation is bound to responsible use, allocation and preservation seeing that many earth resources are not renewable. At the current rate that man is consuming these resources, it is very likely that there will be more resources that we can “pass down” to future generations possibly compromising their ways of living if not their existence in general.
A key example of the urgency of environmental preservation programs can be seen in the rate of deforestation that countries and the world in general are seeing annually. The Amazon which houses the largest rainforest on earth is seeing a yearly deforestation rate of 4.3 million hectares per year between the year 2000 and 2005. The same trend is also being observed in Africa where more than 4 million hectares of forest cover is disappearing annually. Nigeria is recording the most rapid rate of deforestation compared to any other country in the world – it is losing 11.1% of its forest cover annually. If this trend continues, Nigeria will not have any forest to tend to in a few years time.
Other regions are not faring any better. Central America is losing up to 285,000 hectares per year while Southeast Asian and Tropical Asian countries are losing up to 1% of natural forest cover on an annual basis. Vietnam lost 51% of its forests between 2000 to 2005 mainly due to subsidence farming and the growth of large-scale industries which are consuming natural resources at an alarming rate.
The reason why forests are central to the debate on environmental preservation are diverse as they are multi-faceted. Firstly, the earth’s potable water supply is closely linked to the state of forests around the world. Precipitation in mountainous areas are collected by tree roots which then seep down into the water table eventually feeding into lakes, rivers, streams, and wells. Without sufficient tree root systems to keep the water in check, water comes down in one big torrent causing landslides and devastation to populations living in the valleys near deforested mountains.
Second, forests play a vital role in ensuring that wild animals from insects to large carnivores have a healthy ecosystem to thrive in. The rainforests across the world hold an astounding diversity of plant and animal life; with the current rate of deforestation observed, more and more species extinctions are being reported in many countries. Because we have not fully understood the effects of these animals to ecosystems across the world, we are not aware of the effects that can occur when nature’s delicate balance is disrupted.
Third, trees are excellent carbon dioxide consumers. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas emitted during the burning of fossil fuels. Without trees to sequester carbon dioxide, the CO2 naturally goes to the atmosphere contributing to the global heating effect. An average tree sequester up to 50 pounds of carbon dioxide a year; at the rate at which forests are being reduced and cars are increasing, not to mention increased production by many industries that carbon dioxide, it is not difficult to explain why the increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is exponentially increasing per year.
These are just some facets of environmental preservation that spell the need for tougher legislation and more pronounced efforts at conservation. Development will not be able to continue if we continue to disregard “ethics” and choose to over-consume natural resources without thinking of re-growing, replenishing, or renewing them. The case of forests along already making a pressing case for environmental preservation; what more if we consider other cases such as soil, water, fossil fuels, and many other risk areas.
The drive to preserve the environment is only beginning and there are tougher challenges ahead. The hope is that everyone buys into the idea and cooperates on a global scale to mitigate the effects of environmental degradation. If not, there could be no future for our children. That would be a very sad realization to ponder.