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Essay

Jesudurotimi Adenekan

Year-Prize: The 12th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Beat Air Pollution

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BEAT AIR POLLUTION FOR NEAT AIR PROLIFERATION

Jesudurotimi Adenekan (Nigeria)
Honorable Mentions

 


Without question, many are unfazed by the ticking time bomb about to explode if not pre-empted. This problem of air pollution is global, though for some its lashes are more inflicting, with its welts still visible. Having been cultured in Lagos on the arable lands of Nigeria, I have seen air pollution degenerate into grave complications. Simply put, Air pollution is the release of contaminants into the atmosphere resulting in deadly consequences.
I witness several instances of air pollution while returning home, it began with my wait at the bus stop where I saw two men who were highlighted by two orange flames in the darkness. The choking odour from their cigarette was particularly unbearable, so I moved away. Shortly after I boarded the Molue (a large rickety bus), people were squashed between the seats or standing and cleaving to rustic rods. A trailer zooms pass us raising dust and generously emitting a thick black choking smoke which lingered awhile.
Concomitantly, I blocked my nose in a desperate attempt to avoid inhalation of carbon. I subsequently made a discussion with a commuter on the dominance of second hand vehicles (used automobiles in bad condition) trudge the roads, wreck-havoc and contribute largely to air pollution in Lagos State. Just then, fresh air sweeps in, or so I thought, the sweet smelling, cake like aroma drew my attention, only to behold two pipes on a factory wall unleashing hellish fumes into the heavens. Our bus soon passes a market entrance, the sidewalk was habited by hefty waste heaps, with a resultant smell of decayed flesh and rotten egg mingled with the stench of excretes. Commuters ran briskly pass this unsightly area with nose tightly covered.
Finally, on alighting, I could see women fanning big pots of coal trying to roast corn and plantain arrayed on wire mesh and gifting the atmosphere more smoke. I arrive home greeted by the noise of various generators in the neighbourhood, which were contributing their quota of toxic emissions, my neighbour also deciding to burn refuse due to absence of waste collectors for weeks. I spoke to him, trying my best to enlighten him on his action, the menace called air pollution and the bigger picture global warming.
Sadly, like myself, majority daily face the grave problem of air pollution in different shades and intensities from vehicles, wastes, generators, industrial and human activities. But many are unaware of the severity of this calamitous phenomenon, and the consequences on human as well as the overall economy.  WHO iterated, that nine out of every ten people on earth breathe dangerous toxic air causing seven million premature deaths yearly. Also, evidence from UN health showed that everyday 93% of children below 15 years- 1.8 billion youngsters, including 630million under 5 years- breath polluted air. Even worse, WHO revealed that 600,000 under 15years died in 2016 alone from acute respiratory infections caused by air pollution. Unfortunately for Nigeria, she has the second worst mortality from air pollution in all of Africa.
Conversely, the economic impact like loss of workforce, higher cost of recruitment due to death or sick employees and higher health related compensational strains, food shortage due to impact on livestock life expectancy from bad air and ultimately lower GDP, employment and poverty hinder the socio-economic terrain.  These consequences raise a dire need to institute solutions quickly, by stack stakeholders’ collaboration, It’s imperative  we act now, because Its either we collectively beat air pollution or we continually get beaten by pollutants-Its poignantly only one outcome.
Subsequently, I will classify the required actions for stakeholders: Youth, Adults, Businesses, and Government.
Institutions; Government and Businesses must hold the bull by the horn. Government should implement better fees programme to discourage waste generation, incentivize household recycling, properly manage landfills, penalise businesses that exceed emission rates, divest fossil fuel energy, ban or heavily tax importation of used cars with bad combustion engines as well as invest in R&D of renewables. Government must institute policies and ensure compliance by factories to fit detectors to outlets with such data sent to government agencies for surveillance. In addition, air pollution has not garnered the required attention, until it is considered as important as a nuclear attack, little may change. Why can’t we implement same at micro levels by drones, sensors and other advanced technologies to monitor and influence air pollution?
Businesses; corporates and factories must begin to watch their carbon footprint during production, provide CSR in areas of air pollution: public education, fund NGOs and R&D for STEM disciplines and institute competitions to students that encourages innovation.
All citizens, adults and youths alike have roles. Adults must be societal role models and ensure low generation of waste, encourage recycling, use eco-friendly cooking sources, patronize LED lights and energy efficient appliances, adopt shared transport vehicles and should desist from burning waste during disposal. Youths, should be proactive as part of their extracurricular club activities and champion air pollution by organising awareness walks, cleaning of dirty public places, partake in competitions, develop innovative and technological possibilities to solve air pollution, exploit social media, utilize their talents- writing, drawing and films, and leverage partnerships with a  wider online audience.
I do not merely write, I have been involved, as an undergraduate in ILC, Unilag. I impacted various schools and an orphanage by cleaning and education on cleanliness and pollution. Few weeks ago, on another team I visited a school to provide bins and train students on climate change. In a quest to solve the problem, I won a contest, pitching the idea of a machine that helped sort waste at locations like markets and residences, reducing air pollution and channelling these waste into treasures.
In conclusion, few have been involved in response to this exigent circumstance. Imagine the 7.7 billion people that make up humanity performing such little acts, this would go a long way in proliferation of neat air. Thus, beating air pollution at every nook and cranny of the earth.

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