TODAY -

Earth Day 2019

N. Munal Meitei *



On the 15th of this month, as a rare accident, three women were killed due to a cyclonic storm in Manipur. Now a day, extreme environmental conditions like scanty rainfall, harsh cyclone, cloud burst or any other environmental challenges that were not happened in the past are starting to experience in our State.

Therefore, on reaching the Earth Day 2019, we feel that celebration of this auspicious day is much concerned with our state. Earth Day which starts since 1970 is an annual event celebrated worldwide on April 22.

Various events are held to remind us the urgent need to protect our environment and the mother earth. Earth Hour initiated by WWF with the electricity switch off from 8.30 to 9.30 pm on the last Saturday of March every year is different from the Earth Day.

The theme for this year is Protect our Species. The unprecedented global destruction and rapid reduction of plant and wildlife populations are directly linked to causes driven by human activity: climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, trafficking and poaching, unsustainable agriculture, pollution and pesticides are some of it. The impacts are far reaching and we must take action right now to protect our species.

The air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil that grows our food are part of a delicate global ecosystem that is increasingly under pressure from human activities. Humans are clearing land for housing, agriculture, and other needs, which is destroying the habitats of species. Losing these important species lead to instability of ecological systems.

We need a global transformation of attitude and practice. It is especially urgent to address how we generate the energy that drives our progress because 80% of our energy comes from fossil fuel burning that is the main cause of the global warming. Our global strategy must promote sound environmental ethics, and continually emphasize humanity’s interconnectedness with nature.

The Earth’s species are vital to humanity’s economic and social development. As a result, there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations. At the same time, the threat to species and ecosystems has never been as great as it is today. Despite the attempts that have been made to undermine progress made in solving environmental problems, major progress has been made. Scientists, Environmentalist, and, increasingly, the general public are realizing that we are in an environmental crisis of global-ecological proportion.

Human population are still ascending at an exponential net rate of 5 persons per second, the atmosphere is warming up at the rate of 0.76ºC per decade, both tropical and temperate rainforests are being cut at alarming rates of a football ground per minute, ozone layer is missing and serious pollution is also much more prevalent than admitted previously.

From the perspective of biodiversity this means, species are being lost almost not on a daily basis but on seconds, at the rate of one species per 20 minutes. The rapid extinction rates that are occurring today are estimated to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has identified 38 percent of the world’s known species to be threatened with extinction. It is predicted that our present course will lead to the extinction of half of all plant and animal species by 2100. Acknowledgement of these problems, however, means that we can find solutions for them, although most solutions require enormous economic aids which may anchor these coherent problems.

85 percent of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. Many other aquatic species such as dolphins, turtles, birds, sharks, and corals are killed due to inefficient, illegal, destructive fishing practices and plastic pollution.

The same CO2 emissions responsible for global warming are also absorbed by our oceans and converted to carbonic acid, making the oceans less and less hospitable to aquatic life, exacerbating the problem further. But please don’t forget that70% of earth’s oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by marine plants.

The last three decades have been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. Sea levels are rising @ 3 cm per decade; glaciers are melting almost 30% since 1912, and precipitation patterns are changing as extreme weather events are becoming more intense and more frequent.

Water tables on every continent are falling as underground water is pumped out at far greater rates than rainwater can naturally replenish it. As per experts, at an average, India is pumping out its underground aquifers at twice the rate of natural replenishment.

The amount of water available per person will drop by 74 percent by 2050 because global population at that time will crossed 9 billion. Thus it very much certain that mankind will need two Earths by 2030.

All living things have an intrinsic value, and each one plays a unique role in the complex web of life. Every single species evolved to be what it is for a biological reason. Each one occupies a particular niche in the grand scheme of life and is needed by other species to thrive and survive. It is extremely concerning that we are losing species before science has the chance to find out how important they really are!

Everywhere you go on our planet; there is something alive around you. If you pay a bit of attention, whether in urban or the countryside, you will almost always see a tree, a plant, a bird and an insect...some form of life. Furthermore, any person who has watched a TV program, read a magazine, visited a zoo or aquarium, or enjoyed a walk in the outdoors, has probably noticed the immense variety of plants and animals that surround us.

Our planet is truly thriving with living things. Some we are familiar with and others we have never heard of. The most recent study, published in 2017, estimates that there are roughly 2 billion living species on Earth, over a thousand times more than the current number of described species.

In Manipur, the most challenging environmental problem is the indiscriminate felling of trees for firewood which are meant for domestic consumption and the numerous Brick kilns. The cost for firewood is much lower than the coal. Therefore, to supply for the mushrooming Brick kilns, large areas of our rich forest are cleared on daily basis. Unluckily, again, in hill areas, popy plantation has become a common business.

And thus, our state is facing the chronic wounds both from felling and clearing of forest for popy plantation coupled with the continuous damages from Jhoom cultivation. Burning of firewood also causes high percentage of air pollution.

To conclude with, on this Earth Day, it is appealed that when we come together, the impact can be monumental.

Go green with Earth Day by making small changes that add up to make a big difference. Commit to earth-friendly acts, make more sustainable choices, reduce your carbon footprint, conserve energy and resources, collaborate on environmental projects in your community, vote for leaders committed to protect the environment, and share your acts of green to help educate and inspire others to join such movement!

Start protecting our environment today and help to create a healthy, more sustainable future by protecting our green cover and planting more and more trees.


* N. Munal Meitei wrote this article for Impha Times
This article was webcasted on April 21 2019.



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