The environment, everything (living and non-living) around us that makes life possible is most often treated unfairly. Humans assume that, they are superior and have no regard for the environment; herein called “the silent speaker and action-oriented actor”.
In Ghana and like most other countries, human impact on the environment or anthropogenic impact on the environment includes changes to biophysical environments, ecosystems and natural resources caused directly or indirectly by humans.
Despite unavoidable free services (food, shelter and most of our life supporting requirements) provided by the earth to humans, we are not able to pay off her kindness to us. Rather we humans are being cruel to our environment and earth with our selfish activities.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” Accordingly, greed has further exacerbated the disregard for the environment with our duty-bearers, and the rich being the most culprits, and sadly, the poor are the most affected.
In Ghana, modifying the environment to fit the needs of society without recourse to sustainability, proper spatial planning, and implementation of appropriate policies is causing severe effects, which becomes worse as the years progress.
As a country and people, we demonstrate our disregard for the environment through various ways; building on water ways, reclaiming urban wetlands for construction purposes, indiscriminate dumping of waste, illegal mining activities, deforestation and degradation of ecosystems etc. In all these instances, the old and young are all culpable.
If after rains, there are unsightly mounts of trash scattered on our roads, it is a living proof that garbage thrown to the environment eventually comes back to the public-the environment as a silent speaker is speaking. If buildings and properties are destroyed after rains because of floods-the environment as a silent speaker is speaking. If human lives are lost (example of about 12 lives lost in the last one month in Ashanti region alone) – the environment as an action-oriented actor is acting with rage.
Whenever the environment acts by taking lives, we talk, insult, cry and spend the taxpayers’ money to compensate the bereaved. The question is, what is the value of mattresses, oils, tents etc. to human life? As we grow as a nation, there is an indication of the society’s failure to unlearn reckless practices and to learn the environment-friendly way of life.
The cost-effectiveness of our actions and the fact that, the environment is always a silent speaker and action-oriented actor means that, we should all awaken to the reality of the environment and begin to act decisively and responsibly.
The message is clear: We must stop treating the environment like a garbage dump. We must unlearn the bad habit of building on waterways and urban wetlands, destroying our forest and water bodies etc. Enough of the talking, crying, insults rather more of action by all and sundry.
Always remember that, when the silent speaker speaks all hear and when the action-oriented actor acts all see-we shall all bear the brunt of the way we treat our environment in one way or the other.
Author: Prosper Kwame Antwi, Environmental System Analyst