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Over a decade ago, I lost my parents. Left with five young orphans, my very old grandmother (a widow) had to device ways to feed and educate us. We turned into an unregistered charcoal producing firm in order to survive and gain access to other basic commodities. At school, many classmates shied away from me, most of them citing my smell of charcoal as a repelling factor. Was it child labour? Was it a blatant and orchestrated plan to rob the surrounding forests of their green cover? Did I know that what I was doing was very dangerous not only to the environment but also to myself and fellow sentient beings? Don’t miss the point, all these mooted queries notwithstanding, I was posing a behemoth threat to the ecology and its sustainability. Today, I am disturbed by the feeling of guilt of the crimes which I committed as a young boy against the environment mostly driven by necessity. As sad as it makes me feel, that destructive initiative provided my food and paid my fees all through High School.

I recently did a rough estimate of how many trees we must have cut down to burn as charcoal for pecuniary benefits. The findings were shocking. We had cut down about 3, 000 mature trees. It was then that I decided to redress my victim-the environment. From the year 2008 to date, I have personally planted more than 600 trees across my Division and spearheaded several initiatives that have supported the planting of more than 3,000 trees in my rural homeland. We are all guilty of crimes committed against Mother Nature, either by necessity or due to lack of information and I think the best way to show our remorse is to fully take responsible and remedy our wrongs.

The how is the focus of this Article. The how is Green.

Today, environmental issues such as global warming, global dimming, ocean acidification, shut down of thermohiline circulation, Holocene extinction, coral bleaching, poaching, endangered species, eutrophication, electromagnetic radiation, environmental impact on hydraulic fracturing, plasticulture, desertification, nanotoxicology, nuclear meltdown,  ozone depletion, water pollution, unregulated fishing, deforestation, marine debris and medical wastes among others are a worrying trend.

Many of the environmental problems affect us directly, the rest unleash their indirect and devastating impacts on our lives and endanger the lives of our yet-to- be-born progeny. Certainly, the war against environmental pollution is inevitable and imperative; we either conserve the environment or die from the effects of its destruction. Of course we all know that as a people, we must formulate good policies that will save us. We must elect and demand of leaders who offer reforms that harmonize the quality of our environment with responsible liberty and a sustainable developmental agenda. But what we must ask ourselves is this fundamental question; “what am I doing to save the planet?’’

In order to succeed in our attempt to save the planet, we must change our lifestyle for the better. Instead of the furious mania for oil and its dangerous components, we can turn to the readily available and sustainable alternative sources of energy. There is plenty of wind, sufficient sunshine and dependable water presence in the world that can be used to generate safe and cheap sources of energy. Of course, countries are grappling with the problem of taxing sectors of production whose activities pollute the environment. But must we wait? We can choose to live near our work stations if that is possible, or cycle to work to reduce our contribution to pollution by rejecting the temptation of travelling in carbon producing vehicles to and from work.

The question should be, what have we done in the past, or are currently doing that causes atmospheric pollution, exacerbates water pollution, increases industrial effluents pollution, encourages domestic effluents pollution or promotes other forms of pollution like soil pollution and noise pollution? That is what we need to change and the world will be safe not only for us, but also for the future generations.

That change of lifestyle, the complete turnaround is what to me being Green means

Article by Eston Nyakiya-Kenya Young Greens

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