In socio-economic, religious or other dimensions, today marks one of the world’s most important days -World Environment Day, because the battle against global warming or climate change, is a matter of life or death for billions of people. Whether we realize it or not, what we do or do not do, what happens in the coming years and decades, will either be the end of the whole universe or a new creation. For instance, scientists say that by 2050, our oceans will be 50% polluted by plastic or polythene and the consequences of that are unimaginable.
In a statement, the United Nations says it is taking steps to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since it was started in 1974, World Environment Day has grown to become a global platform for public outreach and is celebrated in more than 100 countries. Above all, World Environment Day is the “people’s day” for doing something to take care of the Earth. That “something” can be focused locally, nationally or globally; it can be a solo action or involve a crowd. Everyone is free to choose.
According to the UN, every year this day is organized around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The 2018 theme is beating plastic pollution. The day also has a different global host country, where the official celebrations take place. The focus on the host country helps highlight the environmental challenges it faces, and supports the effort to address them. This year’s host is India.
Today India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Dr. Harsh Vardhan along with the UN Under Secretary General and environment chief Erik Solheim will preside at a major ceremony which they hope will set an example to all countries. Mr. Solheim is also well-known in Sri Lanka for his peacemaking efforts. The UN urges governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives and urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic polluting our oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health.
According to a report from Bangkok on Sunday, a short-fin male pilot whale has died in Southern Thailand after ingesting more than 17 lbs of plastic bags and packaging, a sobering casualty of the waste littering the world’s oceans. During an autopsy veterinarians removed more than 80 plastic bags from the whale’s stomach, said Jatuporn Burutpat, Director-General of Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. Officials say the whale was spotted by locals on May 28 looking ill and floating abnormally. Government veterinarians were dispatched to care for the whale and were joined later by members of a local whale conservancy group. Mr. Burutpat said that on June 1, the whale started to vomit pieces of plastic. In a post on Facebook, ThaiWhales said the animal “struggled fiercely” as it tried to purge its body of the plastic.
“India is excited to host the World Environment Day today. Indian philosophy and lifestyle has long been rooted in the concept of co-existence with nature. We are committed to making Planet Earth a cleaner and greener place. If each and every one of us does at least one green good deed daily towards our Green Social Responsibility, there will be billions of green good deeds daily on the planet”, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said. From pan-Indian plastic clean-up drives in public areas, national reserves and forests to simultaneous beach clean-up activities – India will lead the initiative by setting an example.
“India will be a great global host of 2018’s World Environment Day celebrations. The country has demonstrated tremendous global leadership on climate change and the need to shift to a low carbon economy, and India will now help galvanize greater action on plastic pollution. It’s a global emergency affecting every aspect of our lives. It’s in the water we drink and the food we eat. It’s destroying our beaches and oceans. India will now be leading the push to save our oceans and planet,” Mr. Solheim said yesterday.
We hope that in Sri Lanka also millions of people will do millions of good deeds or green deeds, big or small so that our country also could join India in taking massive steps towards becoming a green Sri Lanka. Not only today, but if we all do green deeds daily, we will be helping to build a new Sri Lanka not just for ourselves but for generations to come.