During the past 50 years the world has caused serious degradation to Mother Earth and as the United Nations marks the International Mother Earth Day on April 22 we need to pay attention and take effective action because to the extent we degrade mother earth to that extent we degrade ourselves.
In a statement, the UN says Mother Earth is clearly urging a call to action. Nature is suffering. Oceans are being filled with plastic and are turning toxic. Extreme heat, wildfires, floods, and a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season have affected millions of people. Now we face COVID-19, a worldwide health pandemic linked to the health of our ecosystem.
Climate change, human changes to nature and biodiversity crimes such as deforestation, land-use change, intensified agriculture and livestock production or the growing illegal wildlife trade-- can increase contact and the transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans. This includes the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the UN says. From one new infectious disease that emerges in humans every four months, 75% of these emerging diseases come from animals, according to UN Environment. This shows the close relationships between human, animal and environmental health.
Ecosystems support all life on Earth. The healthier our ecosystems are, the healthier the planet - and its people. Restoring our damaged ecosystems will help to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent mass extinction. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which will officially be launched with World Environment Day on June 5 this year, will hopefully help us stop, halt, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and every ocean. But we will only succeed if everyone plays a part.
Let us remember more than ever on this International Day that we need a shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet. Let us promote harmony with nature and the Earth. The UN also calls upon all countries to join the global movement to restore our world.Stressing the importance of biodiversity for humans the UN points out that the Coronavirus outbreak poses huge public health and global economy at risk, but biological diversity as well. However, biodiversity can be part of the solution since this diversity of species would make difficult for pathogens to spread rapidly.
According to the UN there is growing concern about the health consequences of biodiversity loss and change. Biodiversity changes affect ecosystem functioning and significant disruptions of ecosystems can result in life-sustaining ecosystem goods and services. Specific linkages between health and biodiversity include impact in nutrition, health research or traditional medicine, new infectious diseases and influencing shifts in the distribution of plants, pathogens, animals, and even human settlements, most of them affected by climate change.
Despite ongoing efforts, biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide at rates unprecedented in human history. It is estimated that around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.With this big picture and the coronavirus scenario our immediate priority is to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but in the long-term, it is important to tackle habitat and biodiversity loss.
In a message the UN General-Secretary António Guterres says on this International Mother Earth Day, all eyes are on the COVID-19 pandemic – the biggest test the world has faced since the Second World War. We must work together to save lives, ease suffering and lessen the shattering economic and social consequences. The impact of the coronavirus is both immediate and dreadful. But there is another, deep emergency -- the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis. Climate disruption is approaching a point of no return. We must act decisively to protect our planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption. The current crisis is an unprecedented wake-up call. We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.
The UN Chief has proposed six climate-related actions to shape the recovery and the work ahead. The proposals are as we spend huge amounts of money to recover from the coronavirus, we must deliver new jobs and businesses through a clean, green transition; where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, it needs to be tied to achieving green jobs and sustainable growth; fiscal firepower must drive a shift from the grey to green economy, and make societies and people more resilient; public funds should be used to invest in the future, not the past, and flow to sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and the climate. Fossil fuel subsidies must end and polluters must start paying for their pollution; climate risks and opportunities must be incorporated into the financial system as well as all aspects of public policymaking and infrastructure; we need to work together as an international community.
To what extent is the Sri Lankan Government following these proposals? Unfortunately, eco-friendly groups allege that the Government is involved in large scale deforestation to help big companies make bigger profits. It is alleged that several other moves also are not eco-friendly. The authorities need to remember the UN warning that if we degrade mother earth and damage the biodiversity process we will degrade ourselves.