Today, (June 5th) is known as the world environment day. United Nations use this as the main way to encourage awareness and action to protect our environment. This year’s theme for the day is ‘Celebrate Biodiversity’. This year Columbia will be hosting the main event in partnership with Germany.
The idea for a world environment day (WED) established in 1972 Geneva General Assembly. Two years later, in 1974 first WED was held with the theme “Only one Earth”. Since then the UN organized this event annually and celebrates it by activities like camping, community awareness programs, organizing plays, quizzes, tree plantations, lectures, and kids poster competition, etc.
The reason for choosing Columbia to host this year is it is one of the countries with “megadiverse” biodiversity. Of all the world’s biodiversity, Columbia holds 10%.it is the country with the second-highest biodiversity in the world. When it comes to bird and orchid biodiversity, Colombia holds no.1 position and no. 2 in butterflies, freshwater fish, and amphibian biodiversity. Colombia is blessed with 9153 endemic species. The reason for this exquisite biodiversity is most of Colombia is covered with the Amazon rainforest. Sadly, Columbia also has 2 biodiversity hotspots, which means species in these areas are highly threatened.
What is biodiversity?
It is a term that defines every living organism within a single ecosystem or habitat, including numbers and diversity of species and all environmental aspects such as temperature, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels and climate. Biodiversity can be measured globally or in smaller settings. (Biologydictionary.net)
Why is it important to protect biodiversity?
Some think that protecting biodiversity is keeping all the organisms living today for the next 100 or 200 years without letting them go to extinction. It’s more than that. Extinction is a part of the evolution process. Existing organisms should vanish from the earth to make room for newer species to come with better-adapted qualities to the environment. The problem is human activities have sped up the rate of extinction to a level environment that cannot keep up producing/evolving newer species. This is a serious problem. Because the world we live in is interconnected with complex networks of interdependent relationships, which are called ecosystems. These connections include humans. So if we keep destroying our environment, that means we are gradually destroying the human race itself. No organism can live without others. To keep the balance of the environment, every part of it must function.
What are the challenges for biodiversity?
We can identify 6 major factors that are affecting biodiversity.
- Climate Change
- Habitat Loss and Degradation
- Invasive Species
- Other Potential Threats like (tourist destination spots, Infections)
As we can see, from above 6 factors 4 of them are caused by human interventions.
This graph clearly shows how an increase in the human population made a negative impact on other species in the world.
This graph shows that biodiversity loss is maximum at African and Asian continents.
Over the last 500 years, humans have contributed to the biodiversity loss to a scale that now scientists are saying the earth is facing its sixth mass extinction. And this is the major extinction happening after 65 million years.
So what can we do to protect biodiversity?
Sadly, an individual effort is not going to make a significant effect on the conservation of biodiversity. If we act as a country with the mediation of government, we can at least try to protect the biodiversity inside our country. But a global movement is essential for the conservation of earth’s biodiversity and stop happening a mass extinction.
Nonetheless, I will explain a few things we can do individually to protect the environment around us. Because as we can see none of these ‘UN-sponsored’ environmental days, all the conventions and agreements are doing the environment any favor significant favor. So it’s the least we can do as a person who loves the environment.
- Reuse the plastics and glass as much as possible (minimize using lunch sheets and bring a water bottle).
- Always purchase recycled or eco-friendly products.
- Save energy, because thermal power plays a major part in powering up Sri Lanka.
- Take a walk, minimize private transportation methods, and take a bus if u can.
- Give priority to Sri Lankan cuisine.
- Don’t litter in public places.
- Learn about the biodiversity and teach others the need of conserving it.
- Don’t waste drinking water, conserve it as much as you can.
These things may seem insignificant, but if we all keep doing them at least we can expect to have a beautiful home garden, university, and ultimately a country.
With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, things have been a little bit good for mother earth.
This image shows how NO2 concentration has reduced in the Indian atmosphere over the Covid-19 pandemic period.
This gives us a powerful message. One way another, the earth will return to its balanced state. In that process, humans are just another component of earth, and humans will not get any kind of favor.
World environment day is just for raising awareness. We need to protect our environment every day. We have to appreciate what we are gifted. We should learn to love mother earth and its beautiful biodiversity. This is our home. Let’s protect it.
“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”
– E. O. Wilson –