In taking the lead for global attention to safeguard the environment, the United Nations was only acting as a catalyst to motivate and encourage nations across the globe to primarily: create and spread awareness, to encourage people to take action and to protect the environment.
Trees play important and indeed significant roles in our lives as human beings. Trees breathe out oxygen for humans to breathe in. Also, trees help protect the vegetative cover of our water bodies and sources, hence the decision by the UN in 1972 to dedicate a day every year for the environment was a well-thought-out decision.
But in spite of all these advocacy, campaigns, conferences, seminars and other interventions on safeguarding the environment, man is adamant. Instead of being responsible, we continue to be recalcitrant, cutting trees indiscriminately without making any efforts at replant them.
Quite ironically, as if nature was warning us against our irresponsible attitudes, behaviours and activities in the handling of the environment, Ghanaians were eyewitnesses as the capital, Accra, was inundated by floods two days after the celebration of the World Environment Day. The reasons are not farfetched; the indiscriminate disposal of waste into drains has caught up with us.
And if there were any doubting Thomases, the evidence of our irresponsible behaviour as well as our retrogressive tendencies, was manifested by a video or footage that went viral on social media with some people disposing of waste in running water during the rains. They were oblivious of the fact that they would choke the watercourse and create not only a nuisance but floods.
Again, as if by sheer coincidence, around the same time, the Ghana Health Service issued a Cholera Alert notice to the general public admonishing the populace of imminent Cholera outbreak with the onset of the rains.If our society needs any evidence of our acts of commission or omission in contributing to the outbreak of cholera, then the video that went viral, must serve as a lesson to every Ghanaian that we are our own enemies.Is it not common knowledge that some Ghanaians pump human excreta from their manholes into open drains? Don’t we have people who sweep and dump refuse in the same drains? How many of us challenge such saboteurs when they commit such crimes in the open? Are we not complicit in shielding them? Can personnel of city and urban councils or assemblies be everywhere to check these irresponsible behaviours and acts of sabotage?
Today, the euphoria that characterised the national tree planting programme is no more. It is even doubtful if the programme exists. Time was when tree planting exercises were organised in communities, schools and other public places with pomp which were heavily patronised nationwide. But, can the same be said today? Those trees which were painstakingly planted and nurtured have all been sheepishly cut by people most of whom had no hand in the planting. And the consequences are what we are facing now. EcoWatch wishes to use the awareness created by the institution of World Environment Day in general and the observance of this year’s activities to send a clarion call to all Ghanaians to rally behind all state and non-state agencies in halting the wanton destruction of the environment and reinvigorate our self-help spirit by reviving the national tree planting exercise, more especially the amenity tree planting component of the programme.
In addition, we need to also take the warning by the Ghana Health Service seriously by maintaining clean and safe surroundings to avert any incidence of cholera outbreak.This is the challenge EcoWatch wants to throw to the populace.