Happy World Environment Day! Sponsored by the United Nations, World Environment Day has been observed every June 5 since 1972. Each year’s theme highlights one of the ways humans and other living creatures are interdependent; in 2010, biodiversity is the focus. UNEP states that 17,291 species are threatened with extinction…and those are just the ones we know about. Human activity is largely at fault, and every lost species weakens the web of life on which we all depend.
How will people celebrate World Environment Day? UNEP has created a map of activities across the globe. For example, in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, a youth group will be cleaning two public parks; there’s an urban marsh clean up day in Rio Grande, Brazil and a Sustainability Run in Vancouver. Pittsburgh will see the Third Global Vegan Waffle Party, and people from around the world will vote on their favorite name for two baby gorillas in Rwanda.
But beyond special events on a single day, the WED website provides a list of easy-to-take actions for everyone in their Daily Do Something page.
From saving water to switching off lights, refusing plastic bags and avoiding driving, there are things we can all do every day to make a difference. The Care2 community is probably way ahead in many of these actions; there’s a place to suggest actions to others here.
As if saving the beauty of earth’s plants and creatures weren’t enough of a reason, a new U.N. report quantifies the economic case for restoring the world’s damaged ecosystems. Wetlands treat wastewater; crops depend on the pollination of bees; tropical forests remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere–each ecosystem service contributes a vital and uncounted contribution to our wellbeing and that of future generations, yet every year the press of human activity is destroying the very systems upon which life on earth depends. UN Environmental Program (UNEP)’s Dead Planet, Living Planet showcases 30 initiatives that are transforming the lives of communities while restoring ecosystems around the world.
The report focuses on bringing two messages to governments and citizens, stated UNEP Executive Director Achim Steyer: “Namely that mismanagement of natural and nature-based assets is undercutting development on a scale that dwarfs the recent economic crisis, and that well-planned investments and re-investments in the restoration of these vast, natural and nature-based utilities not only has a high rate of return but will be central, if not fundamental, to sustainability in a world of rising aspirations, populations, incomes and demands on the Earth’s natural resources.”
From simple observances to mindful actions at the individual, local and international levels, we will preserve our planet only if every day becomes World Environment Day. How will you celebrate?
Photo: World Environment Day 2010 focuses on Rwanda, home to the endangered mountain gorilla
© Erwin Friesenbichler via iStockphoto