Apr 20, 2010

It's about home

Human activity has divided the world into an Eco-World (natural world) and Techno-World (built environment)
By Mohammad Niaz

World Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd each year with a focus on different themes. Earth Day 2010 is a prime opportunity for providing a common platform to individuals, corporations and governments to sit together and create a global green economy.

The 40th Earth Day anniversary will be celebrated with a theme the Green Generation Campaign that started on April 22, 2009 with major focus to create a carbon-free future based on renewable energy, to secure individuals' commitments to responsible, sustainable consumption, and to create a new green economy to upset poverty by creating millions of green jobs and transform the global education system into a green one.

Every year the state of the earth resources is experiencing a downward trend even besides global environmental initiatives and concern. The earth is an abode for not only human beings but also millions of other biological entities interwoven in the complex web of life that benefit one another through their vital interaction directly or indirectly. Since we are using the earth resources for obtaining a wide range of benefits, therefore, it's our moral obligation to ensure the wise-use philosophy and perpetuate the resources for sake of our future generations.

Human activity has divided the world into an Eco-World (Natural World) and Techno-World (Built Environment). The Eco-World refers to the mountains, forests, oceans, rivers, deserts, birds, animals, and insects. The Techno-World includes roads, industries, automobiles, buildings, and means to fulfill needs of advanced life style. As such the Techno-World is in conflict with the Natural world, because it's the man who brings radical changes and causing damage to the natural assets. Hence the impact of human has far reaching adverse affects on the natural resources; similarly the raw material for technological development depends on the eco-world and the ill planning of development results in enormous pressure on the natural resources. Rationally speaking, the Eco-World is shirking fast.

Given the contemporary world scenario the earth resources are at stake due to multifold indicators. Rapid increase in human population, livestock and their requirements has doubled utilization and exploitation of the natural resources. Carrying capacity of the Earth can be affected by the size of the human population, consumption of resources, and the level of pollution and environmental degradation that results. Given the current human population of the world 6.81 billion, the earth resources are depleting fast coupled with the process of alteration, consumption, and degradation. The land is neutral and it's the people who cause the problem.

Human settlements in and near the Eco-World has degraded wilderness once the abode of wildlife which has shrunk their pristine habitat and threatened many wildlife species due to the human-wildlife conflicts. Agricultural practices in the fragile ecosystems of the mountainous areas have vitalized erosion threat. Deforestation being one of the forefront problem results in biodiversity loss, threatens fragile ecosystem, disrupt vital and essential ecological services, and change hydrological processes. At the global level this has further attributed to the global warming scenario. Recent calculations suggest that carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, excluding peatland emissions, contribute about 12 percent of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.

The glaciers of the world are losing mass due to the intensifying global warming scenario. An estimated 1.5 to 2 billion people in Asia in the Himalayan region depend on river systems that are fed by glaciers. Without the water from mountain glaciers, serious socio-economic repercussions are inevitable and the UN's Millennium Development Goals for fighting poverty and improving access to clean water will be jeopardized.

The Earth has a finite supply of freshwater stored in aquifers, surface waters and the atmosphere. 97.5 percent of all water on Earth is salt water, leaving only 2.5 percent as fresh water. Nearly 70 percent of that fresh water is frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland; most of the remainder is present as soil moisture, or lies in deep underground aquifers as groundwater not accessible to human use. Less than one percent of the world's fresh water (0.007 percent of all water on earth) is accessible for direct human uses in the form of lakes, rivers, reservoirs and those underground sources that are shallow enough to be tapped at an affordable cost. However, the water pollution factor makes the water quality and quantity worse due to carelessness and mismanagement.

Urbanization also leads to resource depletion. The global proportion of urban population rose dramatically from 29 percent (732 million) in 1950, to 49 percent (3.2 billion) in 2005 which will is projected to rise to 60 percent (4.9 billion) by 2030. It will promote slum dwelling, solid waste and sanitation issues and inequitable distribution of resources. There is a saying that we shape our buildings and latter the buildings shape our world. If we do not learn to build, expand and design our cities with a respect for nature, we will have no nature left anywhere.

Let spare a moment and look into what is being done to the Earth and its resources. More significantly the rate of species extinctions at present is estimated at 100 to 1000 times greater than normal. The rate at which arable land is being lost is increasing and is currently 30-35 times the historical rate. The current rate of deforestation is 160,000 square kilometers per year, which equates to a loss of approximately 1 percent of original forest habitat each year. Over 35 percent mangrove ecosystems worldwide have been destroyed. Only 10-20 percent of the world's dry lands have been somewhat degraded.

Current studies indicated that a total of 15,845 km of wetlands have been irreversibly lost during the past 14 years. The growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions has been more than double till the end 1990s. From 2000 to 2005, the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions was more than 2.5 percent per year, whereas in the 1990s it was less than one per cent per year. Atmospheric CO2 levels have climbed by more than 35 percent since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Since 1980, a significant global warming has led to glacier retreat to the extent that some glaciers have disappeared altogether, and the existence of a great number of the remaining glaciers of the world is threatened.

However, for short term gains, across the globe, human activities have resulted in deterioration of landscapes, forests, wetlands, and rangelands; wilderness, natural areas, and wildlife resources have declined; habitat has been fragmented; and pollution has increased, all due to growth in the human population with technological and economic development and unwise use of resources. As a result, environmental concerns and programs are also growing with the passage of time with the goal of raising environmental awareness leading to ecological action.

The threats to the earth resources are of prime concern for mankind that can be mitigated through awareness and education for wise use. There is a dire need to adopt the strategy of "reduce, re-use, and recycle", if we are sincere with a healthy future of the world. One of the essentials for promoting appreciation of nature among people is to connect people to nature through various means and techniques and promote conservation of resources for human beings.

This evokes interest, passion, and enthusiasm among masses as the prerequisites of the Green Generation Campaign. The policy makers, institutions, and organizations as well as individuals need to adopt do-it-now approach to save the planet earth and its resources in a cobweb of coordinated efforts. If we consider the World as a Global Village, we need to act now to maintain its pristine entity.

World Earth Day is observed on April 22.

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