Updated: Mar 15
✦ It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand planet Earth is in bad shape right now.
Despite receiving numerous warning signs over the years, things have gone into overdrive of late, with a whole host of catastrophes illustrating the planet is facing seemingly inevitable peril, almost as if Mother Earth herself is desperately crying out for help.
In all four corners of the planet we have witnessed devastating wildfires, droughts, record temperatures, cyclone, famines, earthquakes and floods. While we are fully cognizant of the situation, solutions seem to be limited to ongoing, high-level dialogue and good-intentioned pledges that don’t seem to ultimately even be scratching the surface. A cynic could argue that the way the world rallied in response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic is exactly the manner in which we should be turning our attentions to healing the planet.
Global Recycling Day
While many of the problems facing the planet may seem frustratingly out of reach to the average person, recycling is an area that we do have direct control over and thus are able to effect positive change through. Taking place globally for the sixth time on March 18 this year, the occasion strives to remind us of the importance of recycling our waste products in order to have a positively sustainable impact on the world around us. As the Global Recycling Day website says, “we must think again about what we throw away – seeing not waste, but opportunity.”
The site further explains: “Recycling is a key part of the circular economy, helping to protect our natural resources. Each year the ‘Seventh Resource’ (recyclables) saves over 700 million tonnes in CO2 emissions and this is projected to increase to 1 billion tons by 2030. There is no doubt recycling is on the front line in the war to save the future of our planet and humanity.”
You don’t need us to outline how or why to recycle. It might require adjusting our regular routine a little but it is something that is within our grasp and thus incumbent on each and every one of us to do as an absolute responsibility.
International Day of Forests
Three days later sees the 10th year anniversary of the International Day of Forests where countries all around the world are encouraged to undertake efforts to organise local, national, and international activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns to raise awareness as to the importance of forests on our eco-system and to emphasise their benefit to current and future generations. The theme this year is “Forests and Health”.
Forests containing more than 60,000 tree species may cover more than 30% of the world’s land and provide life-sustaining resources for over 1.6 billion of the world’s poorest people, but each year more than 32 million acres of forests are lost - that’s an area roughly the size of England to put it into sobering perspective. As populations continue to expand so does demand for space, likewise commercial pressures on communities who see logging as their only viable source of income.
The knock-on effect cannot be underestimated. With the loss of trees comes the loss of animals and many rare species. Similar to the ocean, trees and vegetation help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere in a process known as a carbon sink, which plays a critical role in climate change. Worryingly, the current level of deforestation directly results in between 12-18% of the world's carbon emissions, which is almost equal to all the CO2 from the global transport sector. We only need to take heed of rising temperatures, wildfires and floods as a very real reminder that the more we chop down forests, the closer we push ourselves to disaster.
World Water Day
On March 22 we have the United Nations observance day “World Water Day”. For those of us lucky enough to be reading this from a laptop or phone in a nice, safe, comfortable environment, the commodity of clean, accessible water could well be something we take for granted, if we are genuinely honest. However, there are 2.2 billion people currently living without access to safe water and countless communities that include schools, businesses, healthcare centres, farms and factories that are being held back because their human rights to water and sanitation still need to be fulfilled.
This is something that World Water Day strives to raise awareness of while advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
This year marks the 30th year anniversary of the occasion with the theme of accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis. The global campaign, called “Be the Change”, encourages people to take action in their own lives to change the way they use, consume and manage water. You can play your part by checking out the website and following some of the suggestions to help.
World Meteorological Day
The following day, March 23, celebrates World Meteorological Day, which commemorates the coming into force of the Convention establishing the World Meteorological Organisation on that date in 1950.
Since then, member nations of the UN sanctioned-body have continued to meet each year and coordinate in the fields of meteorology, operational hydrology and Earth sciences for the security of their population.
The word ‘meteorological’ relates to weather conditions and was a term that gained prominence when accurate meteorological records began 100 years ago. This year’s theme is ‘The Future of Weather, Climate and Water across Generations’, while themes in previous years have included: ‘The Ocean, Our Climate and Weather’; ‘Understanding Clouds’; ‘Hotter, drier, wetter - Face the future’; ‘Polar meteorology - Understanding global impacts’; ‘Preventing and mitigating natural disasters’; and ‘Weather, climate and the air we breathe’.
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