Stephen Mpofu, Perspective
The environment of earth — the global human habitat that God so lovefully created for us and non-human species such as animals, birds, fish etcetera, etcetera — is under siege by global warming with all those affected, including Zimbabweans, pointing accusing fingers at the phenomenon as though it is self-made to spite God’s grandiose handiwork.
The reigning super power, following the disintegration of its archrival, the Soviet Union, has thumbed its nose at the Paris Agreement on fighting global warming and so its unmodified factory chimneys and coal plants continue to spew carbon gases into the atmosphere with other developed countries overseas and developing nations, including those in Africa, helping in their own ways to aggravate atmospheric pollution.
The horrendous outcome of the human irresponsibilities cited above is that the ozone layer that shields the earth from the sun’s fire-like rays is rendered wafer-thin with the result that the globe is heated up, causing droughts and floods that devastate countries – witness the cyclonic floods that hit Manicaland and parts of Masvingo Province last year causing untold devastation of homes and schools, not to mention recurrent droughts that Zimbabwe has been experiencing with the country running short on food as a result. [Mozambique and Malawi were also hit by Cyclone Idai.]
Since the altruism “seeing is believing” is so instructive, no Zimbabwean should doubt the destructive effects of global warming on the environment after Cyclone Idai’s visitation that impelled the Government to seek massive international assistance in addition to what Zimbabweans put together in aid to those affected by the cyclone including the restoration of infrastructure that the event had destroyed.
Which means, in essence, that our people should do everything possible to guard against any willful environmental degradation.
Hundreds if not thousands of alluvial gold miners dotted across Zimbabwe are a point in case here.
Of late the small mines have become scenes of despicable violence by machete-wielding and gun totting thugs in both the north and south of Zimbabwe with lives being lost until the police moved in with force to restore order and save lives, while, on the other hand, the environment in the affected areas remained just as vulnerable.
It therefore must have come as a great relief to many the news a few days ago that the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) had shut down many small gold mines in Matabeleland where dangerous chemicals threatening the lives of both human beings and animals drinking the polluted water were being used.
The alluvial gold miners in question also dig up river beds with the risk of silting water bodies when the rivers become flooded.
It has also been reported that gold-seekers in national parks fail to rehabilitate pits they dig in their hunt for the precious mineral, causing a risk to wildlife.
EMA’s no-nonsense campaign against environmental degradation should cover the entire country with the police keeping an eagle’s eye on all the illegal alluvial gold hunters to restore law and order.
Moreover, is some of the gold mined by these individuals not smuggled for sale out of the country instead of being legally tendered for sale within Zimbabwe with the money earned being used to improve the lives of our people?
Furthermore, calls for people to grow more trees across the country as a way of mitigating the effects of global warming should be applauded with the Forestry Commission supervising the reforestation process, where possible.
Trees take in and sink carbon gases, reducing the impact of global warming which has become a global menace.
Trees also draw rain from the clouds, which is all the reason why deserts are arid and unhabitable except for areas around an oasis.
Strict watchdog measures are therefore imperative to ensure that wanton clearing of forests to get firewood for sale in urban areas or for cultivation but with some of the land affected remaining fallow, after all, should remain history in this country.
Similarly hunting with fire resulting in the destruction of velds and causing smoke to pollute the atmosphere should never ever be tolerated in our country as this contributes to global warming and the consequential destructive effects of that phenomenon on human beings and the environment.