If you can celebrate your birthday, why not celebrate mother Earth’s birthday today on 5th June 2020? After all with the world population, estimated having reached 7.5 billion people in June 2019, it’s time not only to celebrate but also to take care of planet Earth that embraces and feeds us all. Yes, it’s time to get together to celebrate the most extraordinary human environment on World Environment Day.
The History behind the World Environment Day
World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated on June 5 every year. It is the day people need to get together to do something to take care of our environment. It aims to raise awareness on environmental issues, marine pollution, human overpopulation, global warming, sustainable consumption, and the balancing of wildlife.
- Established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 on the first day of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment to integrate human interactions and the environment.
- In 1974 the first WED was held with the theme “Only One Earth” in Spokane County, in the State of Washington, USA.
- Since 1987 the activities are being rotated through different host countries.
- It now has participation from over 143 countries annually who campaign on environmental issues.
What is the theme for World Environment Day 2020?
This year on World Environment Day 2020, the theme is ‘Celebrate Biodiversity’. The term biodiversity was coined in 1985 to describe nature and its significance. The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat all rely on biodiversity, but right now it is in crisis and threatening human well-being. So, what better host country than Colombia who is blessed with the Amazon rain forest to raise awareness on the losses of individual species and creatures, ecosystems and forests which have made Earth habitable for billions of years. This year’s World Environment Day is hosted by Colombia in partnership with Germany.
Few interesting facts on the sheer richness of biodiversity in the Amazons:
- The 55 million-year-old Amazon rainforest is located in South America and covers 2.1 million square miles of land. Brazil has 60%, Peru has 13%, and Colombia has 10% while the other six countries (Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana) have very small parts of the rain forest within their borders.
- There are approximately 5 million out of the 10 million species of animals, plants, and insects known to man that reside in the Amazon rainforest.
- It is home to more than 1500 bird species in the world.
- Houses 40,000 different plant species of which at least 1500 are known for their medicinal value.
- 2.5 million insects live in the Amazon rainforest.
- 3000 edible fruits grow in the rain forest.
- The Amazon rainforest ranks first in bird and orchid species diversity and second in plants, butterflies, freshwater fish, and amphibians.
So, not just the Amazon rainforest but the jungles, the forests, the coral reefs, and even our very own backyards need to be protected. Ecosystems are relying on all parts from the smallest bacteria to the largest vertebrate. 25% of mammals, 41% of amphibians and 13% of bird species face a threat of extinction due to the destruction of biodiversity. It is time to stop destroying biodiversity, particularly as the human population razes natural habitat to create farmlands, housing, and industrial sites.
Killing One Earth
According to the American ecologist, Prof. Jared Diamond, if we do not act to save Earth by 2050 at the latest, it will be no longer possible to save it. Here are few killer facts that should raise immediate environmental concern:
- 37.75 Billion tons of resources extracted from Earth in 2019.
- 1 person on the planet consumes an average of 11 tons of natural resources in a year.
- 80% of global forests are already destroyed. Further they continue to be depleted at a rate of 375 km2 per day.
- Every decade 5-10% tropical forest species are becoming extinct.
- As per NASA, at the rate we keep cutting down forest trees, by 2100 there will be no rainforests in the world.
- With water scarcity, every hour 1692 acres of productive land turns into arid desert.
- In next 30 years there will be no coral reefs. Already 27% coral reefs lost due to climate change.
- The existing plastic garbage in the oceans equals to the area of India, Mexico and Europe.
- The current population ideally needs 1.5 earths as we are already consuming 50% more natural resources than what the planet can provide.
(Data Source: theworldcounts.com)
Image Credits: Ensia
What is environmental Sustainable Development Goals?
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development came into force on January 1, 2016. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda was adopted by world leaders at a historic UN Summit to provide a global blueprint for dignity, peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future. Sustainable development entails long-term, integrated approach to develop a healthy community by jointly addressing economic, environmental, and social issues, whilst simultaneously avoiding the over consumption and exploitation of natural resources. Though the environment underlies each of those goals from eliminating hunger to reducing inequalities, it is Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), Goal 13 (Climate Action), Goal 14 (Life below Water), and Goal 15 (Life on Land) that are closely entwined with conserving the world environment.
India’s Contribution on World Environment Day
India hosted 2018’s World Environment Day celebrations with the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution”. This year on account of the coronavirus (COVID-19) the initiatives by the government, the NGOs, the activists will be scaled down. Yet, we Indians can effectively celebrate by contributing towards:
- Save Water: An estimated 76 million people in India have no access to a safe water supply, and the situation is only getting more serious. So stop wasting if you have an easy uninterrupted flow.
- Reduce the use of plastics: While the government has restricted the use of plastics, try to limit its use in your personal space.
- Recycle E-waste: Dispose old mobiles, laptops and other electronic items sensibly by handing over to e-waste recycling facilities.
- Use biodegradable products: From reusable cloth bags, to glass bottles, to compostable garbage bags, to eco-friendly cutlery, to cloth pads and menstrual cups, to cloth diapers, to herbal products try to maximize the use of biodegradable products.
- Plant a seed: Plant a seed or sapling, take care of it and watch it grow.
The wake up call
It’s time to wake up, to create a healing environment. It’s time to understand mud volcanoes to disappearing lakes, underground contamination to fires, flooding to hurricanes, global warming to nuclear meltdown since human actions have impacted the environment. If we want the next generations to survive on planet Earth, it is time now to conserve and celebrate this World Environment Day by taking conscious steps in the right direction.