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Jesuit Father Myron J. Pereira, based in Mumbai, has spent more than five decades as an academic, journalist, editor and writer of fiction. He contributes regularly to UCA News on religious and socio-cultural topics.
Saving planet Earth from selfish human beings
Come to think of it, this precious tiny planet is the only place we've got right now
Published:
April 22, 2022 10:23 AM GMT

Earth Day, now better known as International Mother Earth Day, is celebrated each year on April 22.

Its main aim is to raise our environmental awareness — about our concerns about overpopulation, loss of biodiversity and our deteriorating surroundings — and to motivate us to act.

Although the first Earth Day celebration was held on April 22, 1970, in the USA, its foundation was laid two years before, in 1968.

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In that year, the US Public Health Service organized a symposium on human ecology, inviting students to listen to scientists talking about the impact of the deteriorating environment on human health.

Two years later, in 1970, US senator and environmental activist Gaylord Nelson demanded the creation of an environmental agency. A massive protest was organized in which thousands of students from universities, schools and communities took part. The date was April 22, 1970, which later became known as the first Earth Day.

In 1972, the US government formed the Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Air Act.

Such decisions are often the result of fierce lobbying by corporates and political parties that have narrow and selfish interests in mind

In 1990, Earth Day went global with more than 140 countries participating in the event. Today around one billion people from 193 countries take part in Earth Day with a firm resolve to protect the environment and biodiversity.

This year the Earth Day Organization has announced that the theme for Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in Our Planet.” The key points here are threefold: act in a bold way, innovate in a broad way, and implement in an equitable manner.

The Covid-19 pandemic has not entirely disappeared, so it’s essential to take necessary precautions and ensure safety first. Still, here are some ways to celebrate Earth Day 2022 meaningfully.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to contribute to environmental awareness and safety. They are not mutually exclusive and, in fact, reinforce each other. We can work for the environment at micro and macro levels.

The macro level is the larger geopolitical level where governments make decisions that affect the lives of millions, usually negatively.

Such decisions are often the result of fierce lobbying by corporates and political parties that have narrow and selfish interests in mind.

The oil and coal industry and the automobile industry in almost every country encourage the use of fossil fuels and the lifestyles which foster it. These in turn increase the greenhouse gases on the planet and the global warming which follows.

It is an only concerted effort at the macro level which brings about change. This means fighting together against the policies of governments that destroy the Earth and its delicate ecological balance. This is what democracy means in practice.

But this doesn’t happen unless one is environmentally sensitive at the micro level — the level of home and neighborhood.

Here is where the simple practices of “restoring, reusing and recycling” can transform our throwaway culture into one which respects life and nature, which is its cradle.

Eating is something we all do several times a day. Still, we need to become aware of how genetically modified vegetables and processed foods and beverages have toxic effects on our health

It all starts with teaching children to respect and love nature and the importance of Mother Earth. Spend some time with nature without necessarily leaving your home. There are multiple online platforms that allow you to take a virtual tour of forests or the sea world. Inculcate in the young a wonder for Mother Earth, our home.

This Earth Day, adopt energy-saving measures in your home and help protect the planet. Pledge to limit the use of plastic. For in this invention we have yet another example of a good and useful product whose rampant proliferation threatens the very life systems on this planet.

Eating is something we all do several times a day. Still, we need to become aware of how genetically modified vegetables and processed foods and beverages have toxic effects on our health.

To eat wisely means having a balanced diet. But even more, as one activist put it, if we consume foods that take away the ability of other people to access food or live safely, it's not right, it’s not sustainable.

Come to think of it, for all our investigations into the mysteries of space, our precious tiny planet is the only place that harbors life. Right now, it’s the only place we’ve got.

And it needs saving from the very species — human beings — that claim to be the most intelligent on this planet.

Earth Day is not just a movement. It stands for the hope that everything’s not yet lost, that we still care for our planet and are ready to do whatever it takes to protect it.

So this year promise to invest more time, effort and money in caring for Mother Earth.

* The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia