By Deepu Sivadas, Co-Lead, IUCN CEM Young Professionals Network.
Launched in the year April 19, 1970, as a protest by over 20 million people in America against the environmental crisis, World Earth Day, is even now the largest civic event for our home Earth. It was Denis Hayes, following Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson’s idea for a teach-in on college campuses about environmentalism, coordinated the first Earth Day. With partakers and celebrants from colleges and universities, primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities, a time when mainstream remained oblivious primarily to environmental concerns and how a polluted environment threatens human health.
All Earth days for the last 50 years have been a protest against the inactions to make a better place for all. This year it is different, as we may not find protests in the streets when an estimated one-third of the world’s population is locked into their homes. It is all digital this year.
Four months ago, none of us knew of SARS CoV-2, which now had literally spread to every country. Many have hypothecated of such a pandemic situation, which now is a reality staring at us, testing our resilience. As pointed by Dr Ian Lipkin, “We can have another pandemic if we don’t change how we interact with our natural environment. We are going to have this problem continuously.”
It is high time that the world addresses the challenges of deforestation, wild-life trade, climate change, population migration, etc., which once regarded as just jargons. No one country can act individually against these, and only combined efforts can make this world a better place. A pandemic of this magnitude is teaching us to live within its limits. We hear of several positive changes in our environment like increased air quality, reduced oil consumption, returning of animals to their natural habitats, and so on. However, we should fear that these environmental changes are temporary. Ones the countries try to boost their economies after lockdown, all of these will return to the earlier condition and even worse.
The present scenario is a good lesson for humanity and showed us new opportunities into the future— the possibility of reducing the high energy and fuel consumption, reduce pollution, reducing unnecessary travels and the work from home culture can make differences in climate change.
If we pull our act together, we can mobilize to reverse anything and stop anything not yet completed.Denis Hayes