We today mark World Environment Day, a vital day for the whole world because if we do not take effective steps in the battle against climate change the death toll may far exceed the number of people who have died in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with some environmental experts warning that as many as two billion people could die from air and water pollution, the mass cutting down of forests and other factors related to climate change. Some people even world leaders including the United States’ former President Donald Trump dismissing climate change as a “ Chinese hoax.” Fortunately the new President Joe Biden, the Asian-American Vice President Kamala Harris and the administration are moving fast and effectively to avert what could be an apocalypse.
In a statement the United Nations says For too long, we have been exploiting and destroying our planet’s ecosystems. Every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch and and during the last century we have destroyed half of our wetlands. As much as 50 per cent of our coral reefs have already been lost and up to 90 per cent of coral reefs could be lost by 2050, even if global warming is limited to an increase of 1.5°C.
According to the UN the ecosystem loss is depriving the world of carbon sinks, like forests and peatlands-- an area of land consisting of peat bogs, usually containing many species of flora and fauna--, at a time humanity can least afford it.
Global greenhouse gas emissions have grown for three consecutive years and the planet is one pace for potentially catastrophic climate change. The emergence of COVID-19 has also shown just how disastrous the consequences of ecosystem loss can be. By shrinking the area of natural habitat for animals, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens – including coronaviruses – to spread. With this big and challenging picture, the World Environment Day is focus in the ecosystem restoration. The 2021 theme is “Reimagine. Recreate.Restore.”
Ecosystem restoration means preventing, halting and reversing this damage – to go from exploiting nature to healing it. This World Environment Day will mark the launching of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the sea. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change and stop the collapse of biodiversity. the UN says.
Pointing out that Investing in ecosystems is investing in our future, the UN says World Environment Day 2021, which counts with Pakistan as the host country this year for its official celebrations, calls for urgent action to revive our damaged ecosystems.
From forests to peatlands to coasts, we all depend on healthy ecosystems for our survival. Ecosystems are defined as the interaction between living organisms - plants, animals, people - with their surroundings. This includes nature, but also human-made systems such as cities or farms. Ecosystem restoration is a global undertaking at massive scale. It means repairing billions of hectares of land – an area greater than China or the USA – so that people have access to food, clean water and jobs. It means bringing back plants and animals from the brink of extinction, from the peaks of mountains to the depths of the sea. But it also includes the many small actions everyone can take, every day: growing trees, greening our cities, rewilding our gardens or cleaning up trash alongside rivers and coasts.
On Thursday in a zoom interview with the Kithu Dana Pubuduwa, environmental expert Nimal Perera says for a healthy life people need clean air, clean drinking water and unpolluted food. But over the past few decades we have polluted the air we breathe, polluted our drinking water and also most of the food we eat. For instance, the expert advises the people they should not drink water that is kept in plastic containers because after some time it could have serious effects. Echoing Pope Francis’ prophetic proclamations, he has called on leader and people of all religions to unite in breaking the structural barriers that make the rich richer and the poor poorer while also joining in the battle against climate change. we could do this individually or as a family and community while governments take mega steps. This needs to become an important part of our spirituality because if we only attend religious services and remain in our comfort zones, we will destroy ourselves and the world.