Did you know that we are using resources equivalent of 1.6 Earths to maintain our current way of life, and ecosystems cannot keep up with our demands? This is an unsustainable situation as we are using up the planet’s resources faster than nature can replenish them. If this trend is not checked then it can have a catastrophic effect on life on earth as we know it. To highlight the urgency of the crisis and to push for more sustainable development, Only One Earth is the theme for this year’s Environment Day. Since 1973, June 5 every year is observed as World Environment Day (WED). Here is why this day is considered to be one of the most important days to promote environmental action.
1. Climate Change
According to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to limit global warming to 1.5 C by the end of the century, we must reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent or half by 2030.
There is a 50 per cent chance that global warming will exceed 1.5° C in the next two decades.
The climate crisis causes extreme weather events that kill or displace thousands and result in trillions of dollars worth of economic losses.
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is responsible for more than 25 per cent of the warming we are experiencing today.
Even if we are able to achieve the scenario where net-zero is reached by 2050, global warming will continue in the short to medium term, potentially levelling off at 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.
Investments in renewable energy can deliver high economic multipliers and are an important step on the road to decarbonisation.
Air pollution causes about 7 million premature deaths or one in nine of all deaths, every year. Nine out of ten people breathe unclean air, making it the most significant environmental health risk of our time.
In 2019, 92 per cent of people experienced air pollution in excess of the World Health Organization (WHO) safety guidelines.
As per the most recent Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) monitoring cycle, over 3 billion people are at risk because they don’t know enough about the health of surface and groundwater resources.
3. Biodiversity Loss
Ecosystem degradation affects the well-being of an estimated 3.2 billion people, which accounts as 40 per cent of the world’s population.
Restoration of 15 percent of converted land used for various purposes and further stopping the conversion of natural ecosystems could prevent 60 percent of the expected species extinctions.
Food systems, including activities like production, processing, transport, and consumption, are responsible for 80 percent of biodiversity loss.
4. Plastic Waste
At the current situation, annual plastic waste entering aquatic ecosystems could triple from 9-14 million tons in 2016 to 23-37 million tons by 2040.
From 1950 to 2017, an estimated 9.2 billion tons of plastic was produced, 7 billion tons of which has become waste.
If discarded improperly, plastic waste can harm the environment and biodiversity.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.