The World Environment Day (June 5) was launched by the UN over 45 years ago to address serious environmental concerns threatening the future of our planet. Even back then, uncontrolled land use change, mindless industrial exploitation of natural resources, eco-sensitive zones’ encroachment, wildlife crimes, and rampant development had already begun taking a toll on the earth’s limited resources. Unfortunately, the concerns and issues have multiplied, instead of reduction over the years.
The Earth is going through a serious crisis. The planet, we call home, is dying. But who is bothered! Despite being the most intelligent species on earth, we continue in our ‘business as usual’ mode. Environment, wildlife and natural resources remain at the bottom of our priorities. The Earth continues to be exploited by a few industrial giants and leaders in the name of progress. Climate change, warming oceans, acidity, and rising sea levels are a reality that threaten our food security and life.
The Great Barrier Reef of Australia has already lost huge areas of its coral to bleaching. Similarly, more than 70 per cent of the world’s corals are under heat stress. Corals are the nurseries and breeding grounds for over 4,000 species of fish. Fishing industries harvest over 120 million tonnes of fish from our oceans annually. Sadly, 40 million tonnes of this catch is treated as by-catch (unwanted fish) and dumped back into the sea. The nets are cast again for more exotic species such as prawns, snappers etc.
Annually, more than 30 billion kg of dead fish and marine life are dumped into the sea. These also include dolphins, seals, turtles and whale species. The impacts of declining fish catches are being felt by many poor coastal fishing communities around the world.
Another serious threat to food security is acidification of oceans due to the drainage of untreated effluents, raw human waste and plastic. Billions of gallons of waste drains into the sea everyday. Plastic is the worst pollutant to enter our oceans. China, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam are among the greatest plastic polluters.
Almost 1/3 of the oceans are covered by plastic waste. Ocean water decomposes plastic. Minute particles and molecules of plastic are eaten by fish and found in their bodies. Plastic has reached our food chain and onto our dining tables, further threatening human lives. Scientists predict that at this rate of plunder and abuse the ocean will be empty of fish by 2048.
Human greed for more has driven us to the brink. The planet is losing over 10,000 species of plants and animals every year. Sadly, despite all the knowledge and intelligence, wisdom seems to have no place in a world presently blinded by technology and glitter of ‘progress’. In our mad pursuit for more, we have forgotten that all the riches of the world cannot produce one drop of water.
We all need the environment to survive. No country or law can bring change faster than individual participation and action. We all need to join in to secure our future. The need is for the intact sustainable cycle of nature that enables life on this planet. Our home.