World Environment Day (WED)

World-Environment-Day-2020

The WED (World Environment Day), one of the most celebrated days for environmental action. Since 1974, it has been celebrated every year on 5 June. 

On this day, governments, businesses, celebrities, and we the citizens of the world shift our focus to put any effort into a pressing environmental issue. We plant trees, most widely and commonly, and after the day, our lives continue as it was. 

Is a day long WED observance enough?

The recent events suggest NO! 

The bushfires in Brazil, the United States, and Australia, the forest fire in Uttarakhand, the locust infestations across East Africa and India, and then, a global disease pandemic COVID-19. 

These events suggest a strong act. It proves the might of Nature. Most importantly, this is an attitude check, if we don’t respect our dependence on Nature, the human race will be the first one to get extinct. 

Always Remember! Nature will flourish better if we vanish. It doesn’t need us. We do! 

The theme of WED 2020

This World Environment Day 2020, the theme is Biodiversity –Time for Nature, a concern that is both urgent and existential. 

Reversing biodiversity loss is the only way to restore and sustain a healthy planet.  This will only be possible when we understand the web of life in which we live and appreciate that it functions as a whole system.  It is time to reimagine our relationship with nature and put nature at the heart of our decision-making- the UN. 

UN-WED2020
Image source- CIEEM

WED had different themes each year. Past themes include: 

2019- Air pollution

2018- Beat Plastic Pollution

2017- Connecting People to Nature 

2016- To Prohibit Illegal Trade of Threatened

2015- Seven Billion Dreams: One Planet, Consume with Care

2014- Small Islands and Climate Change

2013- Think. Eat. Save

2012- Does It Include You?

Why World Environment Day?

Nature responds to some of the most pressing challenges faced by humans today. It provides us with oxygen, purifies the water we drink, ensures fertile soil, and produces the variety of foods we require to stay healthy and resist disease. Nature enables medical researchers to understand human physiology and offers substance for developing medicines. It is the foundation of most industries and livelihoods. It even helps mitigate the impact of climate change by storing carbon and regulating local rainfall. Life on earth would not be possible without nature’s services. It is our greatest common good.

The World Environment Day Anthem

The anthem of WED is known as “Earth Anthem”. It was composed by poet-diplomat by the name Abbay K, in 2013. Abhay K’s Earth Anthem composed by L. Subramaniam and sung by Kavita Krishnamurthy was released in Brasilia. It is made up of eight different languages that unite communities from different parts of the world. The anthem was launched during an Indian Council of Cultural Relations event which was held in New Delhi, India. It is a strong symbol of the WED.

Nature’s Act: Shocking Facts to Know this WED 2020

According to the World Economic Forum, climate change is seen as the biggest potential threat to the global economy. It adds that climate impacts could push more than 100 million people into poverty by 2030.

Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation was seen as likely to have a bigger impact than the spread of weapons of mass destruction, water crises, mass involuntary migration, and a severe energy price shock.

Despite the concern, climate change is the third most serious issue facing the world, behind international terrorism and poverty. 

Temperature Rise

Surface

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. 

Oceans

The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of more than 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. 

Ice cover

Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.

World-Environment-Day-2020
Image Source- NASA. Link in References

According to NASA-

The Earth’s temperature will continue to rise so long as we continue to produce greenhouse gases. Studies predict that temperatures will increase from two degrees Celsius to as much as 6 degrees Celsius by 2100.

2016 was the hottest year on record since 1880 with average temperatures measuring almost a degree (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century’s mean.

Why such a rise? 

  • Rainforests are cut at a rate of 100 acres per minute.
  • 27,000 trees are cut each day so we can have Toilet Paper.
  • American companies alone use enough Paper to encircle the Earth 3 times. I alone can’t calculate the data of all the countries’ collective paper use. 
  • We can save 75,000 trees if we recycled the paper used on the daily run of the New York Times alone.
  • An estimated 50,000 species inhabiting our tropical forests become extinct annually. That’s an average of 137 species a day.

The world’s oldest trees are more than 4,600 years old. So why cut them?

Pollution and fossil fuels

Air pollution 

Air pollution is the fourth largest risk factor for premature deaths, causing one in ten deaths globally. Premature deaths caused by air pollution are tragic and come at a high price tag of an estimated $225 billion in foregone labor each year.

According to The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin- the globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017. Global levels of CO2 crossed the symbolic and significant 400 parts per million benchmark in 2015.

Fuels 

G7 nations spend $100 billion a year on fossil fuels. The major industrial democracies which have dominated spend at least $100 billion each year for their oil, gas, and coal consumption. The Group of Seven (G7) – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States – had pledged in 2016 during CoP21 to phase out their support for fossil fuels by 2025. 

Is Musk’s Tesla or any other kind of Electric means of vehicular operations of urgent need? 

Polluted Oceans

Oceans are more acidic due to the continuous draining of wastes in the ocean,  the pH of ocean surface water has risen by 26 percent than at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Studies say a healthy ocean can deliver climate benefits through “blue carbon” sinks such as mangroves and other vegetated ocean habitats. 

Thanks to the next issue- Plastic. 

Plastics

The plastic problem is worse than ever. A Science Magazine report says that 8.3 billion tonnes of virgin plastic have been manufactured so far. Of which, 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been discarded as waste, somewhere in the landfills or in the open.

Also, 20,000 plastic bottles are produced every second, or one million every minute. According to estimates, 1.6 million barrels of oil are used to produce plastic water bottles every year.

Did You Know? 

  • When you throw plastic bags and other plastic materials in the ocean, it kills as many as 1 million sea creatures annually.
  • A glass bottle made in our time will take more than 4,000 years to decompose.

Floods situation

Sea levels are rising at their fastest rate. Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century and is accelerating slightly every year. 

Arctic sea ice coverage has shrunk every decade since 1979 by 3.5 to 4.1 percent resulting in rising sea levels. The current rate of change is 3.4mm a year, which is the fastest rate in 2,000 years. 

Global flooding could triple by 2030. According to a study from the World Resources Institute, the number of people exposed to flooding each year is at risk of tripling from 21 million to 54 million by 2030. This can lead to increased economic costs from £65 billion to around £340 billion.

Now, the age-old issues which are still looming this WED

Population Explosion

The current world population is 7.8 billion as of June 2020 according to the most recent United Nations estimates elaborated by Worldometer. Our planet gains inhabitants numbering to 77 million people a year.

Drinking Water Crisis

844 million people lack basic drinking water access, more than 1 of every 10 people on the planet. Women and girls spend an estimated 200 million hours hauling water every day.

Did you know? 

Only 1% of our planet’s water supply can be used. 97% is ocean water and 2% is frozen solid in the Arctic, for now.

Refugee Crisis

WED-2020-REFUGE-CRISIS-ALJAJEERA
Image source- Al Jajeera– Syria

Refugee Crisis the ultimate sign of Climate Change? 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that an average of 21.5 million people is forcibly displaced since 2008 due to climate change-related weather hazards. Climate change acts as a ‘threat multiplier’ in areas of ongoing conflict around the world. 

But it is still quite arguable if the sole reason being only climate change not political or racial or by self wish or any other similar reasons. 

Are all these Climate changes link to the refugee crisis? What do you think? Let us know, in the com box below.  

Easy question! Considering Nature’s act, What are we doing then? 

Few Efforts to acknowledge: 

At the CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, which was the 14th  meeting, held in Egypt, 17-29 November 2018. The following decisions are taken by the UN Member States in the Convention on Biological Biodiversity. 

  • UNEP and its partners are launching the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030), a global initiative to restore the relationship between humans and nature.  
  • UNEP is also working with world leaders to develop a new and ambitious Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to realize a 2050 Vision of Living in Harmony with Nature. 
  • Long-term Strategic Directions To The 2050 Vision For Biodiversity. Approaches To Living In Harmony With Nature And Preparation For The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Read the full Note

What can we do to heal Nature?

We need to stop using a few things like- plastics and its products, limit the use of paper. We need to adopt new alternatives to fossil fuels, most commonly electricity and batteries. Say no to killing animals. Save wildlife. Stop deforestation. Save trees.

This WED If we pledge to adopt at least these measures, we could heal Mother Nature to some extent. Obviously, the damage that has been done requires a long time to completely heal it. But if we adopt good measures, we can at least buy some TIME. Which otherwise, seems we are running out of.

If you are with me so far, I hope you by now know the full scenario. So on this World Environment Day (WED 2020), this 5 June, what efforts are you putting in?

Are you planting enough trees? Can we continue the way we are?

What changes do you think we need to urgently adopt and also adapt to? Use the com box to Let us know. 

References- 

World Environment Day | United Nations 

Vital Signs of the Planet 

The World Counts 

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