Earth Day

The Pale Blue Dot: Our Inheritance, Our Legacy

Look closely at the picture, observe that brown band to the right. The bluish-white speck you see is the EARTH you and I live on. The picture is named the PALE BLUE DOT; a photograph of Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 Space Probe. from about 6 billion kilometres away.

In the photograph, Earth's apparent size is less than a pixel; the planet appears as a tiny dot against the vastness of space, among bands of sunlight scattered by the camera's optics.

To think this is our world, our history, our inheritance and our legacy. A place where we dream to be and become. A place where we plan to conquer and dominate. A place where we want to be known, crave significance and win the approval of the people therein.

We love the earth so much that we are constantly on the search for that elixir that will keep us forever in it. Yet what are we doing with the opportunity afforded us on this green platform?

We have plundered mother nature; cutting the trees without replanting. We have littered the land surfaces and oceans, depositing toxic chemicals and contaminants through our selfish activities. We keep flaring gases, contributing to the greenhouse gases emission through our vehicles and other utilities we can do without.

We treat the Earth carelessly to preserve our lives forgetting that it is the only platform we have to live. If the Earth dies, we die with it! So, why not choose to be the one to care for the environment.

We think the earth is so big and our little activity at one corner won't hurt anyone...try placing a finger on that Pale blue dot and check if you can see it anymore. Of course, you can't! The Earth is so small that what you do affects every part of it. And guess what, it's a boomerang!

What you do to Earth it gives back to you. You give it excess Carbon gases, it gives you acid rain and global warming. You give it trees and less dirt, it gives you oxygen and freshness.

Take a stand to care for Earth, pledge to live simply and moderately. Reduce your waste, dispose of your waste properly, recycle materials that you can, do not buy what you don't need, engage in various activities that will reduce pollution, plant trees and become an ambassador for a clean Earth.

Let us care for our Pale Blue Dot else it might just be lost in the vastness of space -- along with us, and everything we have and will ever hold dear.

It's #EARTHDAY2016 reaffirm your stance for the environmental protection.

Owoeye Josiah Abolade is an environmental biologist and public health expert in the Federal University of Technology Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria. He is an advocate for green Nigeria as a volunteer for Green Campus Initiative.

The State of Nature

Now that it’s been almost seven years, I can sufficiently say, I didn’t like Avatar much. To give a bit of context, I’m a film buff and looking back, I was probably more caught up in the experience of it all rather than in the movie itself. Avatar was Meh! It’s the kind of movie you look back at and say, yeah, I saw that. But, it is funny how certain parts and not the whole of things leave an imprint; like the memories of loved ones, where we only remember the good. I’m not going to outright say that Avatar got me interested in conservation, but, it sort of did. There’s this scene right before the big battle where Jake goes to pray to the N’aavi ancestors for guidance and assistance. In it, he makes a strange, but poignant comment. He says “They (humans) destroyed their green.” The ancestors end up providing assistance, and a whole lot of bloodshed commences, but that’s beside the point, this article isn’t about Pocahontas 2, sorry, Avatar. Cameron implies in the film that the world is seemingly headed to state of no nature and from a philosophical point that is mightily interesting to me.

I have read a multitude of classical philosophical works and I frequently ponder the friction between the past and the future. If, for example, the past was dictated by a state of nature, wouldn’t the future, being the polar opposite, be one without it. The State of Nature, as a philosophical thought, presents a world without society. I tend to take it further to mean, a world without the modern man. As the name suggests, nature rules in this environment and there is unparalleled equality among man. Man, without the technological advances of the modern era, only takes what he needs from nature. Nature would also rely on man to foster the photosynthesis loop; and being a largely agrarian society, also for the care and nurture of nature. In a sense, there is equality between man and nature as well. Thomas Hobbes, the British philosopher known for his social contract theory, postulates that in this state of nature, man is preoccupied with doing everything to preserve their life. He contends that life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. The state of nature is essentially a world of man versus man. Hence, the need for contracts to negotiate a way out of this compromise- and the subsequent creation of functioning states and governments. Hobbes sees the creation of government as the end of the state of nature. Governance is in itself a form of modernity. As such, I feel there exists a disconnection between the modern man and the state of nature. Evolution postulates the survival of the fittest, and as we gravitated towards a more unequal and unjust society, certain beneficial aspects of the state of nature have been abandoned.

I am not advocating the dissolution of government. If anything, I have constantly argued for the need of government to give conservation more precedence in the global arena. But the key word is preservation. The Hobbesian view is that governments form to ensure preservation of man. It likewise suggests that it is the fear of death that propels man to peace. As such, shouldn’t nature then be entitled to the same rights of preservation, given our equality? Recent estimates suggest that at least 10,000 species go extinct every year. At this rate, in another millennia, the planet would be a desolate place. Man is particularly responsible for this trend. 2015 was the warmest recorded year in history, the second warmest was 2014. Preservation of the environment has been relegated to the back-bench. This is where I feel government should play more of an active role. Hobbes stresses that the role of the sovereign is to ensure common peace and safety. Climate change is the greatest silent threat to the world. To ensure the safety of the future generation, we need to do more to avert the unthinkable.

Man’s greed has been echoed for generations now. It is the predominant assumption in economics. Industrialization and globalization are key to understanding rampant pollution. While I think competition on an international stage is healthy in terms of development, there should also be a rationale motivated by self-interest. Climate change is responsible for extreme weather patterns the world over. Droughts, extreme heats, glaciers melting and rising sea levels have an adverse effect on people’s livelihoods as well as the environment. Add to that the negative health outcomes these changes in the environment brings and you’ll perfectly understand the rising costs of these changes to man. I frequently refer to this discord between the global north and south when it comes to conservation. Less advanced nations bear the brunt of environmental degradation because they are ill-equipped to handle them. There seems to be an information asymmetry with regards to dealing with climate change. Not only do advanced nations have better technologies to deal with them, but information is not delivered in the appropriate channel to developing nations. This is the particular area where I feel government should play more of active role. It is not enough to rely on civil society to spread awareness on this all important issue. Competition should drive our need to preserve the environment- the need to better ourselves, to evolve, to survive.

The art of survival is engulfed in an endless state of conflict. The environment, more than anything charts a timeline similar to the literary conflict narrative. Man against man; where the need to secure resources generates conflicts. Nature is at the nucleus of this stage, albeit, not overly consumed to necessitate a disastrous erosion of the earth. The current stage is that of man against nature. Make no mistake, we are winning this battle but it is one we should not necessarily be partaking in. In most narratives, nature fights back aggravatingly. The stage that follows will be one of man against self. To wage war against nature is to ultimately wage war against ourselves as we stand to lose the most from an eroded earth.

Hobbes Leviathan (last reference, I swear) speaks on the Kingdom of Darkness. It’s not as mythical as it sounds however. Hobbes is talking about ignorance; similar to Plato’s Cave. I feel ignorance is the single most important factor derailing the environmental movement in the modern epoch. The onus, as in the cave, is for an individual to venture out, to seek knowledge, to seek the light. There are so many resources in this day and age to supplement the little you might know about climate change and environmental degradation. But we need sustained interest in the field, be it though organizing symposiums or going the extra mile to include it as a major in universities. Very few universities have programs in environmental protection, and fewer students actually take the bolder step to major in them.

In Avatar, man has taken the giant step into the unknown. After exhausting the resources on Earth, they venture to another planet. Barring any outrageous technological advancement, that seems highly unlikely in the near future. Already, we are seeing nature fighting back. Scientist are predicting more frequent changes in weather patterns around the world. Frequent micro earthquakes have been linked to fracking and extreme heat and cold are becoming more common. Just this past week, there have been several emergencies in India regarding heat strokes. The state of no nature isn’t a prediction, it’s already begun and we ultimately have no one but ourselves to blame. 

Olaoluwa holds a Masters in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelors from Lincoln University. He writes for the Green Campus Initiative. His core interests include poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and youth empowerment. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, writing and watching sports. In the future, he hopes to obtain a doctorate degree where he aims to study exclusionary policies that limit youth participation in politics.

Green Campus Initiative features in Earth Day: Climate Action 2016

Time, people, events, and places conglomerate to align you with destiny…
— Unknown

Theodore Idibiye Francis Auditorium, located at The Federal University of Technology, Akure, was ready to accommodate green minds from inside and outside of Nigeria. The warm and refreshing air, welcoming sounds, and rich blends of colours used in its interior confirmed that this would be the perfect location for Nigeria’s Earth Day celebrations. Before the event began, as a Green Campus Initiative Intern, I was able to join in the chats, banter, and healthy discussions going on among groups of lively, intelligent and energetic people. Their impressions, feelings, and comments about this stand-out climate event were positive and educative. All these people, discussions, natural and tranquil environment really helped set the mood up for what was to happen.

Earth Day is an annual event on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and first celebrated in 1970, it is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. With the passage of COP21 and the release of new UN Sustainable Development Goals, climate awareness is at an all time high. In this spirit, the Space Club and ENACTUS Team of The Federal University of Technology, Akure, felt it timely to organize Earth Day: Climate Action 2016 on January the 15th, 2016. The event was aimed at promoting sustainable practices that people could adapt to protect the planet. It was also a platform for sharing ideas, exhibiting products and inventions that mitigate climate change.

What made the event special for me?

First, it was the highly educative and interactive oral presentations of the experienced lead speakers, which included Adenike Akinsemolu; the Founder of Green Campus Initiative, Toluwanimi Kolawole; a Research Associate at The University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Prof. Ahmed Balogun; an Applied Meteorologist and the Coordinator of WASCAL (West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use).

Adenike Akinsemolu showed the audience, which comprised of primary school pupils, secondary school students, university undergraduates, and young professionals from around the region, simple and creative solutions that will help sustain earth and influence people. Some of these included: commuting green, raising eco-conscious kids, social entrepreneurship, investing in organic foods and products etc. Toluwanimi Kolawole continued the session by sharing knowledge on parts of the planet such as people, resources, and systems which are finite. He discussed  the relationships between these element and, how anthropogenic activities influence the climate, and problem solving or critically thinking skills.

Also, the panel discussion and product and invention exhibition made the event special. Interesting questions were raised and discussed. One of such questions raised by a female undergraduate student of Industrial Design was on how art could be used to minimize climate change. One of the panellist, a Ghanaian and Team Lead of The Conservative; Mr Thomas Koffi Aboh emphasized that recently, art has become an important tool in reducing the effect of climate change. He went ahead and showed The Conservative eco-friendly products such as bags and caps all of which are made from local materials. Other panellists were, Olayinka Ojo; the Green Campus Initiative Minister for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, and also the Winner of the UN Spoken for Word Contest, Owoeye Josaiah Abolade; an Environmental Pollution PhD candidate, and Daniel Trump from the University of Edinburg.

Several teams, including The Conservative and Earthplus Africa from Obafemi Awolowo University, exhibited great ideas and products that are mitigating climate change.

Top Dignitaries of the University present at the event were the Dean of Students Affairs and First Bank Nigeria Professorial Chair in Computer Science; Prof. B. K. Alese, who also represented the Vice Chancellor of the University; Prof G. A. Daramola, the University Registrar; Dr. Mrs M. Ajayi, and Director of CESRA (Centre for Space Research and Applications), FUTA; Prof. J. O. Akinyede.

The Earth Day Event at FUTA was different from other green campaigns or activities because it did not just create awareness, but because it was a platform for sharing ideas and exhibiting various projects and innovations working to mitigate climate change. Attending this event alongside other team members from the Green Campus Initiative was worthwhile to me. The outcome has already started to be felt among other participants. This event should be held every year across campuses in Nigeria as this is a sure way of ensuring sustainability. Check out the pictures below:

Christopher Oghenekevwe Oghenechovwen , a B.Tech student of Meteorology and Climate Science (FUTA), is a decolonized African, environmentalist and ready volunteer. He is 2013 Citizenship and Leadership Certified by CLTC, Nigerian Federal Ministry of Youth Development, a 2015 UNESCO & Athabasca University student on Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue, 2015 Senior Category Gold Winner of The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition, and youth correspondent at . His growing passions lie within the circle of Climate Action, Media and Information, IT, Youth Education and Leadership. Apart from volunteering with Earthplus, The Green Campus Initiative, and doing creative writing, Oghenekevwe loves to connect with people. Invite him for a healthy conversation via