Opportunities and Challenges for Nigerian Libraries in National Environmental Protection Initiatives
Egbukole, Kingsley Nnamdi, African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science
"Environmental management is a complex system of concepts, values, processes, rules, and formal and informal organizations and behaviours that translate public preferences and goals into actions in order to influence environmental quality." (Lovei and Weiss, 1998). As environmental protection is attracting increasing political attention and public support, many developing countries are designing and putting into practice environmental policies and institutions.
The performance of environmental management is influenced by the importance attached to environmental protection in political decision making, and the commitment of the government to address environmental problems. These are influenced, in turn, by (i) the public's concern about environmental problems and its access to meaningful information on environmental issues; and (ii) the existence of mechanisms for public pressure on environmental decisions. (Lovei and Weiss, 1998)
Causes and Management of Environmental Problems
Some environmental problems are natural, while others are man-made. The man-made environmental problems are more common and varied. Ayoade (1997) stated that any process natural or man-made that modifies the physical characteristics of the earth's surface and the chemistry of its atmosphere has the potential to influence the pattern of global atmospheric circulation and the resultant pattern of global weather and climate. However, some authors are of the view that not all changes in the physical environment are environmental problems.
Sloep and Van Dam-Mieras (1995) opined that natural disasters and other changes not caused by humans should not be regarded as environmental problems, because including them would cloud the issue of human responsibilities and liabilities. They thus defined environmental problems as any change of state in the physical environment, which is brought about by human interference with the physical environment, and has effects which society deems unacceptable in the light of its shared norms. This thus excludes natural disasters like flood, fire, volcanic eruption, etc. In consonance with the above, Uchegbu (1998) listed pollution (air, water and noise), global warming, ozone layer depletion, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, desertification, and atmospheric contamination as environmental problems. These man-made environmental problems are more common and varied than the natural disasters, and often also heighten the negative human impact of the natural disasters. Most of the environmental problems are directly related to the population of a particular region or city and the level of development associated with the region or city.
The various activities of man on the environment over the years are the root causes of the environmental problems. Ayoade (1997) stated that the climate exerts influence on man and his socioeconomic activities in many and diverse ways. Man, in turn, influences climate through his various activities. Thus, environmental problems such as deforestation, desertification, noise pollution, air pollution, water pollution and solid waste generation tend to increase as the human population increases. In this respect, Dr. Jidbhong Jayavasu, Deputy Governor of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, in a keynote speech in a UNESCO organized workshop on promoting awareness on environmental problems, emphasized that environmental problems are interrelated and that the roots of the problems are human in nature (Jayavasu, 1991). Accordingly, in order to understand environmental problems, one needs to begin with the human factor.
Current Environmental Situation in Nigeria
The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Rio declaration (Earth Summit) of June 1992 both emphasize that, in order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it. …