Food security: Catholic Caritas urges Nigerians to support FG on environmental protection
Caritas Nigeria (Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria) has urged Nigerians to support the government in addressing environmental degradation and promoting food security in the country.
The Episcopal Chairman of the Church and Society Department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, gave the charge Wednesday in Abuja, during a two-day summit to commemorate the seventh anniversary of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ Encyclical, published in May 2015.
The themed summit, ‘Synod of Synodality in the Context of Laudato Si: The Nigerian Experience’, was to rally Nigerians to take active action on global warming and prevent environmental disasters due to negative action by citizens to contribute floods and other environmental emergencies across the country.
According to him, Nigeria is facing environmental problems, and many of them seem to be getting worse over time, thus bringing the country into a period of environmental emergency.
“So it has become important to continuously raise awareness of the existence of these problems and to propose what can be done to reduce their negative impact. Some of the key issues are air, water and soil pollution caused by toxins such as plastics, heavy metals and nitrates.
“We are used to the suffocating experience of gases released by vehicles, factories, burning fossil fuels, acid rain, oil spills and industrial waste.
The phenomenon of acid rain as experienced by residents of Port Harcourt and surrounding areas is a classic example of how unchecked air pollution can have very dangerous effects on our health and well-being,” said Dr. Martins.
He also said that global warming caused by greenhouse gases emitted by human activities causes the depletion of the ozone layer which protects the earth from harmful radiation in the atmosphere.
Martins, who is also the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, said these polluting chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are used in air conditioners, among other things.
He said: “The resulting general (global) temperature increase is causing the polar ice caps to melt, leading to sea level rise, flash flooding and erosion. We who live in Lagos have recently seen how vehicles have been swallowed by raging flood waters. Unsustainable agriculture and land use, among other causes, have led to resource scarcity such as food, water and energy crisis. The use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides also destroys soil ecology and natural grassland.
“Unsanitary waste disposal practices have resulted in the dumping of large volumes of waste into waterways and homes. In addition, medical, pharmaceutical, electronic and nuclear waste is poorly managed and constitutes immediate dangers for us and particularly for the environment. In fact, plastic waste is a national epidemic in Nigeria.
He also noted that the real wave of clashes between herders and farmers is part of the national nightmare caused by the loss of traditional grasslands and pastures.
“Thus, in addition to toxic land grabbing for economic exploitation and political conquest, ecological pressure and struggle for livelihoods are significant factors contributing to our current national and food insecurity.”
He therefore called for a common response to “Laudato Si”, through concrete actions such as the adoption of the use of renewable energies, a green investment structure, the promotion of ecological conversion and a targeted response to the climate change crisis management.