Monday, May 30, 2011

0 Environmental degradation - Root causes

The environment is life, supporting people and other living things. Environment is widely recognized as a 'pillar' of sustainable development. It provides essential goods and services which contribute to meeting basic human needs, and is essential to human development and quality of life. It provides services to ecosystems, including water catchments which protect freshwater resources, wetlands, riverbank environments, biodiversity habitats and ecologically functioning landscapes. The environment is also a sink of the wastes generated from different human activities. 
The root causes of environmental change have both natural (mainly climatic variations and climate change) and human-made factors, and include interactions between them. Global processes are having a tremendous influence on environmental change in Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and their impact on climate variability and change. These changes have not only regional to national dimensions, but also local implications as well. In Kenya like most of the Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a high dependency on agro-sylvoecological systems, which themselves depend on the state of the environment and local climatical conditions. 
Anthropogenic causes of environmental degradation at local level include deforestation, overgrazing, unplanned land management, firewood harvesting and urbanization, and encroachment of wetlands and rangelands for cultivation among others. With a population growth rate of 4%, Kenya has to come up with strategies to manage its environment and natural resources better to support food production to feed the nation, or slow down the infrastructural development to channel funds to import food. Maybe some drastic measures like 'a two child-policy per family' could help!' The process of environmental degradation is generally considered to be slow, but rapid changes in the state of an ecosystem can occur due to positive feedback loops that amplify initial small stochastic changes in conditions, resulting in runaway reactions in the ecosystem. This appears to be where we are as a nation, and we need to heed to call of wisdom. Albert Schweiter said “Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end up destroying the earth" and himself.

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