A World Without Plants By Benedict Okhumale

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“Have you ever wondered how our life would have been without plants? We will all be dead but for the daily oxygen supply from plants. Man cannot survive without oxygen for up to 10mins”

The world is an intricate web of humans, animals and plants. And we are intrinsically interdependent for basic needs for survival and sustenance (food, shelter, medicine and so forth).

We humans think we are higher and superior; our arrogance or ignorance makes us carry on our daily activities exploiting plants mercilessly and selfishly forgetting we depend on plants perhaps more than they depend on us.

This piece is intended to help us appreciate the usefulness of plants for our existence so that we can forge a better relationshipwith plants and consciously conserve them.


Our elementary integrated science teaches us that plants release oxygen into the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. Half of the world’s oxygen is produced via photosynthesis of phytoplankton (tiny plants living in water). The other half is produced via photosynthesis on land by trees, shrubs, grasses, and other plants. This oxygen produced by plants in water and on land account for the natural source of oxygen that we need to stay alive. We take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide and plants consume the carbon dioxide which is harmful to us.


All of us can relate to the fact that plants are the major and sustainable source of food we eat daily. We equally derive critical vitamins and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, Plants are also used for medicinal purposes. Palm wine is extracted from the palm tree. Some of us may not know that Red, white and sparkling wines, gin, brandy, rum and even beers we consume and relish so much are derived from fruits.


I have been a victim of the destructive impact of wind in Lagos, Nigeria. A shed we constructed for business was pulled down by wind. Some of you many have been victims too. Trees serve as very good wind breakers


Erosion of land is caused by several factors. Trees reduce the effect of erosive forces using their root systems and foliage. Tree roots begin as thick stems that branch into fine filaments to create a network of flexible tendrils that help stabilize the soil around the tree and hold it in place. The leaves and branches of trees create aflexible screen that reduces the force of wind and rain in the surrounding area. So when we convert forest of trees to forest of buildings we reduce the surface area of the soil which absorbs water thereby predisposing the soil to erosion.


Carbon dioxide (CO2) gas is perhaps the greatest contributor to global warming by depleting the ozone layer which insulates us from the direct impact of the heat from the sun. Carbondioxide is a major bye product of industrial activities as well as fossil fuels.  Plants consume the CO2 thereby eliminating the carbon dioxide that would have been harmful to the ozone layer. Plants are a huge store of carbon. When we burn bushes for farming purposes and trees for charcoal or dead wood for cooking and other domestic purposes carbon monoxide (CO) is released which also erodes the ozone layer thereby increasing global warming. It is also important to note that carbon monoxide is toxic to humanswhen its inhaled.



We are cutting down our forest for economic benefits (lumbering), for residential and industrial projects without replacing effectively. Desertification is on the increase. Our population growth is resulting in more demand for accommodation thereby putting more pressure on the forests. Pollutants from inorganic sources are reducing plant life in our waters. Indiscriminate and improper use of chemical for weed control in agriculture is also taking its toll.

The threat to the earth we live in caused by our daily actions and inactions in our small corner is existential and alarming. Some of us are already victims of carbon pollution, land erosion, wind action, forest fires, shortages of food and so forth. Some of us may not be alive to witness other potentially catastrophic impact but it behoves on us to play our little part in preserving the earth for generations unborn by conserving it.

This is not the job of governments alone as we are always quick to blame government. It is a responsibility for all irrespective of ethnicity, religion, social status, age and sex.

Manage and bag your domestic waste properly, plant trees and flowers inside and outside your house, voluntarily comply withbuilding regulations, adhere to agricultural best practices, stop cutting trees indiscriminately.

As a kid my father used to say to me as you lay your bed so you will   lie on it. Also remember what goes around comes around.


Benedict has a background learning in biological/social sciences and broadcast journalism. He is interested in progressive discussions on public policy, socio-economic development, international affairs, the environment, leadership and entrepreneurship.


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