While the world is talking about the severe threats and diverse degrading impacts of global warming, as the main driver of climate change (temperature, heat-waves, droughts, severe weather events, flooding, sea-level changes, malfunctioning of eco, bio-, agro- and aquatic-systems, ………. etc.), on all life forms on planet Earth. Many other threats, known but ignored for decades, appear and keep re-appearing in the horizon. What is more alarming and urgent is the running away from realities by deporting and exporting them far from our sight. It is the inconvenient truth about all other types of waste and pollution with far more harmful effects as is the case with greenhouse gases. It seems that the war for clean energy makes it acceptable to destroy the global water, eco-system resources and bio-diversity. These issues are triggered as the priority of the developed and rich countries is Energy on the first hand but it is a short-term vision of how we can deal with and treat our waste and pollution. We need to see the full reality of our planet and with all the increasing pressures on societies, politicians and the citizens to take actions, preserve and protect our planet Earth unified policies and actions need to be in place. It is not enough to have goals on paper “UN-SDGs” without transparent and accountable responsibilities. The increasing waste and pollution including but not limited to the enormous exploration and consumption of minerals, including fossil-fuel, and their diverse derivatives and products need to be dealt with otherwise we will end up feeding ourselves with rubbish as is already taken place in the developing countries.
Harmful and toxic waste and pollution (chemical, physical and biological) find their way to the atmosphere, hydrosphere and eco-sphere through different sources, pathways, processes and interactions due to diffuse or point sources, long-distant or short-distant, and direct and indirect injections. Their transport routes can be tropospheric or even stratospheric, also in the hydrosphere through surface water, groundwater and ocean transport systems. We have corresponding effects with different impacts on water and eco-systems as those caused by global warming. Parallel to the effects of greenhouse gases; carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen, soot-particles and sulphur oxides; we have other chemical and physical waste that seriously degrade water, eco-systems and biodiversity around the world. Degraded air-quality is a real global problem and it is still expanding and growing, however degradation in water resources, eco-systems and biodiversity has to be taken seriously on equal footing. It is straightforward to remove the sources and causes rather that solving their secondary effects. Many companies and actors do scape, in a way or another, from following the rules and regulations to limit the waste and pollution sources causing emissions of toxic and polluting gases including greenhouse ones. This is the case even in developed countries though the ‘Paris Agreement’ (see “The hidden truth behind Sweden’s waste disposal infrastructure” https://youtu.be/caw-969W-D4; “Exposing Australia’s recycling lie: plastics dumped, buried, burned” https://youtu.be/lqrlEsPoyJk). Even journalists are not allowed to get access to facts and to know what is going on? Reality is being censored and we as citizens have no way to know what is what?
Unfortunately, the ‘Paris Agreement’ says nothing about what solutions and actions we have to do. To what extent we should be serious and responsible about the waste and to get rid of the toxic and harmful pollutants for health though the increasing degradation of air-quality worldwide. The situation of pollution and waste, especially in many parts of Africa, is very serious if not tragic for many reasons. For Africa, here are five different reasons why the growing cancer of waste and pollution should be dealt with urgently (https://africafreak.com/5-serious-waste-issues-in-africa). Richer countries have been dumping a lot of their electronic waste (https://youtu.be/yUCoToorc9M) on poorer African countries in places such as Ghana, rather than disposing it properly themselves. The West dumps a lot of their e-waste on poor African nations, Africa has an underdeveloped waste disposal system, there are massive problems with waste and waste disposal in Africa. Africa has very low recycling rates. Though Africa in 2012 generated 108 million metric tonnes of waste only 10 million tonnes were recycled and the rest went directly into landfills. While a lot of countries in Africa barely produce any waste due to economic poverty, there are some countries that do contribute a fair amount of waste, e.g. Morocco, Algeria, Botswana, and Swaziland. Indeed, Africa suffers from severe underdeveloped waste disposal and collection. This of course in addition to the disastrous sanitation situation for 80% of the African population. In certain states in Gambia there are far too few waste disposal units to collect rubbish and deposit it safely. There has been uprising of vigilantes who are attempting to tackle the growing waste disposal in Gambia. Recycling stops rubbish from entering unregulated landfills and stops people burning the trash and releasing harmful chemicals (burning plastics releases carbon monoxide, a carcinogen causing cancer). Cairo is also a city with significant trash problem. It has been reported that some Cairo citizens were feeding their trash to pigs. However, interventions were done to limit the trash problems in Egypt. The situation is even worse in many other parts of Africa.
The most serious situation in Africa is what is going on in Ghana; European e-waste were found to poison the Ghana food-chain (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/apr/24/rotten-chicken-eggs-e-waste-from-europe-poisons-ghana-food-chain-agbogbloshie-accra).
The question is how would the UN-SDGs be promoted and implemented? What is the responsibility of the developed countries what regards their waste? Is it acceptable that the developed countries continue to export and deport their rubbish to Africa and Asia? We need to keep in mind that the majority of the world population 80% will be living in Africa and Asia by 2100. As consumers and citizens in the developed world and in trust of our policy-makers we leave our waste to be recycled at our countries as promised by the responsible authorities. But instead such waste is deported and/or exported to harm the population, degrade the environment and damage the biodiversity in Africa or Asia, is this acceptable?