50 years of Earth Day: Celebrating gains

BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa - The Philippine Star

The celebration of Earth Day last Friday in the Philippines was muted by the election campaign noise, while in other parts of the world, matters of war or the rising cost of living dominated concerns over environmental problems.

It’s been 50 years since the International Mother Earth Day became a global movement. In 1972, the UN Conference on Human Development in Stockholm first raised the protection of the human environment as a major issue. The broad framework of action agreed then became the basis for a more detailed platform in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro where the sustainable approach to environment protection was agreed on.

We live in a world today that is far more endangered than half a century ago, but awareness continues to be high and growing despite the many different distractions that from time to time divert people’s attention from the task of protecting and saving Earth.

For the Philippines, the more apparent need to focus attention to the environment is brought about by the prevalence of stronger and more destructive typhoons, likewise of hotter summers. Many now believe that this change in climate conditions is an issue that should be tackled with more resources and commitment.

Where the feeling of powerlessness was once dominant, humans are now inspired and being galvanized to act. Never has there been a time when so much science is being utilized to understand weather conditions and to devise ways of avoiding and dealing with damage from natural disasters.

More importantly, never has there been a time when innovation is the overriding force in developing new technologies that can provide solutions to the phenomenon of global warming caused by excessive carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

Collective action

As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted in commemorating 50 years of Earth Day, “we have seen what is possible when we act as one.” People’s efforts over the last decades have yielded quite remarkable feats. According to Guterres, “We have shrunk the ozone hole. We have expanded protections for wildlife and ecosystems. We have ended the use of leaded fuel, preventing millions of premature deaths. And just last month, we have launched a landmark global effort to prevent and end plastic pollution.”

We must add to these achievements the unmistakable tide against the use of finite fuels for power generation and transportation as nations adopt programs that lean to and direct more use of renewable energies in the coming years.

Wind and solar are just two of the emerging technologies for power generation that clearly are winning the war against fossil fuels, even if and when global crude oil prices normalize.

Such renewable energies have also inspired the shift of personal mobility from combustion engines to electric engines. We are seeing the production and sales of more electric cars and electric bikes, the former becoming even cheaper than the current gas and diesel vehicles.

Food production, similarly, is slowly embracing sustainability and healthier tenets. Agriculture is increasingly cognizant of the damage that can be done to the environment due to the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, or the razing of forest lands to support industrial commodity farming.

A growing community of “smart” eaters recognize the need to support farms that produce food sustainably while protecting the environment, while also preaching against the practices of commercial farms that “waste” produce that do not meet the standards of mass consumers or when farmgate prices are too low.

There are so many other stories: plastics and disposable diapers made into bricks or road pavers, abandoned coal mines replanted with indigenous trees and vegetation, better light bulbs to replace incandescent, and the emerging technology to capture carbon dioxide from the air on a commercial scale.

People have put their hearts and minds into finding solutions to repairing the damage done to Earth. By putting together such collective efforts, it was possible to introduce remedies to the triple planetary crisis of climate disruption, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste.

During his video message for Earth Day 2022, Guterres said, “This triple crisis is threatening the well-being and survival of millions of people around the world. The building blocks of happy, healthy lives – clean water, fresh air, a stable and predictable climate – are in disarray, putting the Sustainable Development Goals in jeopardy.”

For Earth Day 2022, the rallying cry for those who care is Invest in Our Planet. It’s a call not only to the youth, but also for businesses to continue tackling the monumental challenges of restoring back Earth’s health.

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Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at [email protected]. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.


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