The past year has been one of the hardest in our natural environment. Global issues such as climate change, depletion of natural resources, deforestation and land pollution are becoming more and more difficult day, driven by human impacts. In South Africa, we are suffering from one of the worst droughts in the world, and poaching of rhinoceros species continues unabated. These are just a few of the things we should all be aware of as we celebrate World Environment Day on June 5th.
What Is World Natural Day?
Established as an annual event by the United Nations (UN) in 1972, World Environment Day is the world’s largest festival, known to millions of people in more than 100 countries. The day aims to promote global environmental awareness and ground action at events such as clean-up campaigns, tree planting equipment, renewal programs, communication campaigns and competitions. These are programs that are often fun and rewarding to participate in, making them the best thing you can do if you want a few hours off of your studies.
The 2017 theme, “Connecting People to the Environment”, encourages all of us to go outside to understand the beauty and importance of our environment, to see how much we depend on nature and to learn how to conserve it.
Why Should You Care?
We hear bad warnings about natural threats almost daily. It may sound like this warning is repeated, but now they are manifesting themselves in more subtle ways. Last year, 2016, was the warmest year in the world, with rock dioxide levels leading to significant effects on our natural environments. See NASA’s information about global warming here.
We rely entirely on natural water supply, and on fertile soil where we grow our crops. The seas offer not only seafood, but also large gas stores. Life-saving medicines are made from the genetic material of countless species, and our trees protect us from the harmful effects of excess carbon dioxide. All species play an important role in maintaining this ecological balance.
Closer to home, South Africa’s drought situation could be directly caused by climate change and El Nino – rising sea temperatures causing global climate effects, including a lack of rainfall. As our population grows rapidly, our water resources are dwindling at an alarming rate, making it the responsibility of each individual to take action. Meanwhile, rhino poaching has increased by more than 300% since 2010, air pollution in some areas exceeds World Health Organization standards, and water and soil pollution is rampant.
What Can You Do On Natural Day?
In line with the 2017 theme, the UN has encouraged people to visit a nearby national park or nature reserve to spend time appreciating nature. To better demonstrate your commitment and spread the message, you can take a photo or video in your remote location, and post it on social media using #WorldEnveloDay or #WithNature. Leading presentations will be seen by world leaders at exhibitions at UN headquarters. See the World Environment Day website for details.
We must remember that in order to preserve our environment, we need action that goes beyond just one day. It is important that we make nature awareness an active part of our lives, and educate others about its importance as well.