Concept of Environment: A Study Guide for Students

The word environment comes from the Greek word Kiron meaning circle, surrounding or circle round. According to Fatubarin in Iormba, the environment is the surrounding of an organism in a place where it leaves. The term embraces all those things external to an organism which influences its life in the place where it lives (Oyeshola also in lormba) defines the environment as the unit from which resource needed for human sustenance and development are obtained and into which human development is directed. It implies components of our ecological system (earth) the interactions therein and the changes that occur (339).

Anyam (2013) equipped that the environment involves the internal and external; and it comprises of the physical, biological, chemical, dimensions of human and non human organisms. The environment is all that ensures that survival of life. In as much as the synthesis that the environment is both internal and external is a valid one, it is pertinent to add here that in most cases the internal environment is sustained by the external one.


The study of Nigerian environment has expanded rapidly in recent years. Like any other living thing, man lives in, depends on, and influences the environment. Thus every human society has beliefs, myths and attitudes about theenvironment. Due to increase in civilization and technology new demands has been created1 on all aspects of environment. This is because more people are alive today than ever before, using more resources than before, and producing more waste than previous civilization (Abah et al 2012).


Nigeria as at 2015 has an estimated human population of over 182,000,000. It has a coastline of 853km bordering the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Guinea. It has a maritime area of 46,500km between 0.0-20.0m depth and exclusive economic zone of 210,900km. The Atlantic ocean coastline is interrupted by series of estuaries formed by tributaries arising from the several divisions of the lower Niger river.

The total brackish water area is estimated at 12,940km’ with mangroves comprising 9.700km and the saline swamp of the Niger Delta occupying about 750,000 which are richly endowed with abundant aquatic life and renewable and non-renewable mineral resources. (133, 2012).

Nigeria has 15 major rivers. River Niger, River Benue, Cross River, Katsina Ala River, Danga River, Taraba River, Rima River, Imo River and many others.

Despite their traditional roles as Sources of aquatic resources, most of these rivers are used for flood control, power generation, irrigation and transportation.

Land is the most important resources of the country. It is directly or indirectly used by both plant and animals (man inclusive). Land is defined as the solid part of the earth surface with characteristics which embrace all attributes of the biosphere. It is very important to man’s existence because it is not only a source wealth, both material and spiritual, but also depicts the character and qualities of men and women who inhabit it and who it serves. This makes land a critical variable in the organization of space. Nigeria has a vast land area with a population density of about 120 persons per square kilometer (PSK), although this population is unevenly distributed. This shows considerable resource on land. (134 2012).

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According to lormba environmental pollution consist of five basic types which are:

  • Air pollution
  • Water Pollution
  • Soil pollution
  • Noise pollution


Air Pollution

Air pollution is by far the most harmful form of pollution in our environment. Air pollution is caused by the injurious smoke emitted by cars, buses, motorcycles especially (jincheng motor cycles), trucks, trains and factories. These emissions are: sulphur, dioxide, Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. Even smokes from burning cigarettes are harmful.

Another cause of air pollution is bush burning which are also harmful to man and environment (lormba 2013).

The effects of air pollution are seen in lung cancer, asthma, allergies, and various breathing problemns. Kerker and

Anyam in lormba 2013 has it that photochemical smog floats over most cities around the world, and is known to be a main cause of eye, skin, lung and bronchial anomalies head can damage the brain cells of growing children.

Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), released from refrigerators, air conditioners, deodorants and insects repellant cause severe damage to earth’s environment which has slowly damaged the atmosphere and depleted the ozone layer, leading to global warming.

Water Pollution

Water pollution has two main causes; these are industrial wastes from factories (and oil processing plants) and untreated sewage from towns and cities. Water pollution is also caused by when rain water washes fertilizers, pesticides, and agro chemical into streams, rivers etc. High concentration of sewage in streams and other water bodies can cause typhoid, dysentery, cholera, hepatitis, and so on.

Pollution of water bodies causes severe problems (and even death) to marine life and even those who consume its products. In Nigeria water pollution is the most prominent in the Niger Delta areas where oil spillages have caused lose of marine life, the health of people depend on the water bodies for health of people depend on the water bodies for food and for economic sustenance. Kyernum in Anyam 2011).

Soil Pollution

Soil pollution could be caused by air pollutants. Development activities have severe effects on land. Road construction, estate building, mining and dumping of inorganic waste are some of the activities that change the nature of the land in irredeemable ways. Soil pollution is also caused by acid rain, oil spill, and underground storage tank leakage which release heavy contaminants into the soil.

These may include hydrocarbons, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides and chlorinated hydrocarbons. Other way like animal grazing, certain forms of irrigation agriculture and the used certain machines in farming are also harmful to the land. Anyam in Iormba 2013.

Deforestation is another cause of land pollution. It leaves the land bare and exposed to erosion and subsequent leaching of soil nutrients. Land sliding, mud flows, and gullies also result and render the soil useless for agricultural purposes. The effects on other life forms in the ecosystem are equally devastated. The major sources of deforestation are: Bush burning, cutting down of hardwood for making of burnt bricks and charcoal.

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Noise Pollution

Noise has always been a important environmental problem for human beings. Physically, there is no distinction between sound and noise. Sound is sensory perception evoked by physiological processes in the auditory brain. Complex pattern of sound waves is perceptually classified as cestalts and labeled as noise, music, speech etc. consequently, it is not possible to define noise exclusively on the bases of the physical parameters of sound. Instead it is common practice to define noise simply as unwanted sound cited in lormba (2013).

Noise pollution has health effects. There is ample experimental evidence, that specific disorders such as charcoal vascular diseases, annoyance speech interference at work and at home, and sleep disturbance occur due to exposure to noise.


The Intermixing of contaminants into the natural resources leading to their degradation is known as pollution. The problem of pollution has always been a major issue all around the globe and the need for proper steps to overcome.

It has been increasing and has also found some voice in the recent times. The ever increasing rate of pollution has caused severe damage to the ecosystems as can be seen from rising global warming. Also the pollution enhances human diseases and the death rate of various animals and plants leading to an imbalance in their population. The ground rate of industries and higher rate of consumption of fossil fuels gives rise to this undesirable pollution. Constant efforts to bring about the decrement of this pollution so as to ensure a healthy environment is the need of the hour.

The control of the emission of various particulates into the environment so a to bring down the level of pollution is termed as pollution control. The man steps that can be followed in this regard include recycling and reusing the product that can be used a few times so that the waste produced from them does not deplete the environment. Also the water that is to thrown into the water bodies from the industries should be treated first to bring down its hazardous nature which poses a threat to the aquatic natural species.

More over the amount of raw materials that is to be low used in an adequate quantity so that it results in low generation of the waste amount which mixed with the environmental agent later. Apart from these proper noise and smoker precipitators should be used to bring down the amount lethal smoke and noise produced to help protect the environment.


The world over and Nigeria in particular is not bereft of efforts at combating environmental pollution. Environmental and ecological issues are no longer only North (developed nations) bound. Developing countries of the south equally face various environmental hazards. Environmental and ecological issues are now recognized as an integral aspect of sustainable development. Further, it has been realized that the environment belong to all generation present and future therefore it must be protected (Etd in lormb 2013).

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Many international documents, treaties, agreements exist that are related to the conservation and protection of the environment.

  • The international Trade in Endangered species of wild flora and fauna: These are 108 parties to the adoption of this convention in 1973. It is aimed at protecting endangered species by restricting the import and export trade in product made from them; it prohibit entirely species threatened with extinction.
  • Treaty on due non-proliferation of nuclear weapon (NPW): The more countries in possession of weapon the higher the danger of nuclear war and degradation of the environment. This was the reason behind the treaty before it was concluded in 1968.
  • World conservation strategy (WCS): The focus of the 1980 world conservation strategy was developed and the conservation of the earth’s ecosystem. The strategy emphasized that humanity, which exist as a part of nature, has no future unless nature and natural resources are conserved (ivbijaro in lormba 2013).
  • The United Nation Conference in Copenhagen Denmark: This conference took place from 7h to 19t December 2009. The Copenhagen conference marked the culmination of a two year negotiating process to enhance international climate change cooperation.

Apart from the may global initiatives out of which few have seen highlight above, Nigeria as a country has made attempts to conserve and protect the environment. Few of the laws on environmental protection shall be highlighted here

  1. National Environmental Standard and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NASREA) Act 2007. It is the embodiment of laws and regulation focused on the protection and sustainable development of the environment and its natural resources.
  2. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act Cap 12LFN 2004. An environmental impact assurance is the assessment of the potential impacts whether positive or negative, of a proposed projection on the natural environment.
  • Hydrocarbon Oil Refineries Act, CAP 45 LFN 2004. It is concerned with the licensing and control of refining activities.
  1. The Endangered species Act CAPE 9 LFN 2004. The focuses on the protection and management of Nigeria’s wild life and some of their species in danger of extinction is as a result of over exploitation.


Both the international and the national (federal government of Nigeria through legislation and her agencies has demonstrated her determination to protect the environment from pollution and mindless exploitation. However, these initiatives have not yielded desired result. For instance in, Nigerian environment has witnessed unchecked pollution deforestation and abuse.

In Benue State of Nigeria, laws to conserve natural resources and protect the environment have been enacted. such as Benue State Environmental Sanitation Agency (BENSESA) and other initiatives to protect the environment, however, these have not risen to the challenges of bush burning, deforestation, waste management, destruction of mangrove swamps, poor use of herbicides and pesticides and other unwholesome practices that affect the flora and fauna.

There are copies agencies, legislation and pronouncement in government archives on the protection of the environment, of yet there is no corresponding action plan to reverse environmental pollution or reduce it to barest minimum (lormba 2013).

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