World Environment Day by Sushmita Das
World Environment Day has been started celebrating since 1974 as an annual event on 5th June to bring awareness among people, implementing positive environmental laws by the concerned Government,create non-governmental organizations, etc to improvise the environment for a better tomorrow. But celebrating is not enough as environment is on the path of rapid degradation since 1760s Industrial Revolution.
GLOBAL RISE IN TEMPERATURE
Scientists agree that earth has warmed by about 1 degree C since 1880. Industrial revolution has been a turning point in history as it meant more factories more employment and more development of nations but along with the earth has gained pollution,global warming,deforestation and so on. Scientists have warned that an increase of 2degreeC compared to temperatures before the Industrial Revolution will be catastrophic.
GREENLAND`S ICE-SHEET MELTING-
A massive ice sheet in Greenland, second largest on the Earth is on the verge of Tipping point as it experiences accelerated melting due to exposed warmer air than usual. If this ice sheet completely melts global sea level could raise by 20 feet.
WORLD`S LARGEST ICEBERG BREAKS OFF ANTARCTICA-
A massive chunk of iceberg as large as the size of Majorca in Spain has broken off the coast of Antarctica due to overall increase in global temperature.
CONSEQUENCES OF POLAR ICE-CAP MELTING-
Various cities and islands are in the danger of disappearing due to rise in sea level like New York, Miami, Jakarta, Dhaka,Venice,Bangkok,New Orleans,Shanghai and so on. Rise in sea level will increase coastal erosion and elevates storm surge as warming air and ocean temperatures create more frequent and intense coastal storms. A new joint British-American study has said that the wind speeds of cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons might increase upto 5% if the world is warmed by 2degreeC by 2100. Wind speeds of cyclones can peak at more than 300km/hr and the destructive impact of that kind of wind is unimaginable.
HABITAT AND BIODIVERSITY LOSS
Every minute,forests the size of 20 football fields are cut down. By 2030, the planet might have only 10% of its forest left unless deforestation is stopped. As a result, a recent WWF report found that the population of mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians has declined of an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016. Almost 500 land animal species are on the verge of extinction and we might lose them in the next 20 years; the same number is already lost in the last decade. Scientists assumed that without human destruction this rate of loss would have taken thousands of years. It is estimated that one-third corals,freshwater molluscs, sharks, one-fourth of mammals, on-fifth of reptiles, one-sixth of birds are heading towards extinction. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations(FAO), 100 species of crops provide 90% of humanity`s food, and 71% of these are pollinated by bees. The number of bee-hives has reduced to 2.5million from 5million since 1998 and if all of them are wiped off from the earth humans will be extinct soon too. The Indian Cheetah, Pink-headed duck and the Great Indian Bustard have become extinct due to desertification in India. The last Sumatran Rhino in Malaysia passed away in Nov,2019. Spix Macaw, Indochinese Tiger, Yangtze giant Softshell turtle are some other species that went on extinction recently.
Since the late 20th century we have depended on plastic as an affordable, versatile and durable material. However, plastic is slow to degrade taking over 400years or more and that plastic has to go somewhere, and its frequently either dumped carelessly om land or in rivers before ending up in the ocean. Each year,approximately 8million tonnes of plastic ends up in oceans which drastically effects marine life.
COVID-19 AND FACE MASKS- Corona virus have hit us hard and since there is no viable medication to prevent this infection wearing masks is mandatory for everyone. Masks are of various types N-95, surgical masks, cloth masks. Of them Surgical and N-95 are the effective ones but Surgical masks is the most widely used one. Now whats the problem here! Surgical masks are one-time used mask and after 6-8hrs of use it should be disposed of; and its made of either polyethylene or polystyrene,etc which is nothing but plastic or microplastic. In the world of above 7billion population one can imagine the number of masks being disposed everyday every minute. Plastic waste management was already on our plate and Covid-19 has added the cherry on top.
The mighty pandemic might has dipped the carbon emission for the year 2020 , as it was predicted of 7% fall in carbon Di oxide. But it is a warning from nature that we must act on climate change, nature loss and pollution. It gave us opportunity for a recovery that puts the world on a 2°c pathway. A green sustainable pandemic recover could cut up to 25% of the emissions.
In other words we need a sustainable pandemic recovery that prioritises climate action and can protect human health, jobs and economics and limit global warming.