The day April 22 was designated as International Mother Earth Day in 2009 by United Nations Organization. This day reminds us that our life and its sustenance depend on Earth and its ecosystems. It also calls for a collective responsibility irrespective of literacy, community (both scientific and non-scientific), region (tropical, temperate, alpine, desert), the status of the country (developed or developing) and age (child or old). The call came from the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth. The aim was to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity as stated by UNO.
International Mother Earth Day is an opportunity to raise public awareness around the world to the challenges being faced in maintaining the well-being of the planet and all the life it supports. It is like any other day like Tuberculosis Day, AIDS Day, Deworming Day observed with the grand assemblage of people. On these days, not just the people dedicated to the cause but also public from various sections of society volunteer for their wellbeing. It is not meant just for the scientific community to organize gatherings to discuss the issues and come out with some new resolutions along with assessments of previous ones. One must be self-motivated to be part of these discussions as the center for these discussions is the welfare of the people throttling the natural resources outside the scientific discussion rooms.
Like every year the day is being observed throughout the world and to drive together the theme for 2017 is “Environmental & Climate Literacy”.
It has been accepted since a long time that Education is the foundation for progress. The brainy community strongly feels that there is need to make global citizens fluent in the concepts of climate change. They should be aware of the unprecedented threats being caused to our planet by climate change. It’s not just the scientific community but responsibility of every motivated and awakens human to empower everyone with the knowledge and inspire action in defense of environmental protection.
The theme ‘Environmental and Climate Literacy’ is being considered as the engine not only for creating green voters and advancing environmental and climate laws and policies but also for accelerating green technologies and jobs. This is what the global leaders of the filed aim and hope this year.
After reading this much anyone can definitely repeat the phrase I am used to hearing in general discussions – “we are aware of the witch-work human are involved in by molesting nature and its resources but we are doing our best to avoid it and save the environment. We are not the only person to exploit the resources; there are hundreds of more, uncontrolled, unbound, illiterate, unaware and full of greed. Someone draining awakening lecture here should go and wake them up.” Yes, I agree there is a huge difference in the ratio of the group size of guardians and foes of nature. But this ratio needs to be inverted and this is the only option to sustain life on the only living planet known so far, the Earth.
Even before Rio Summit, human beings started realizing their destructive behaviour and the extra pressure being carried by Mother Earth. In 1980 the United Nations General Assembly met and discussed the draft for World Charter for Nature. A set of principles, rules, and implementations (speaking broadly) set to be followed for the sake of saving the planet to save the life, which does include human. It was in 48th Plenary Meeting of UN General Assembly that this Charter was drafted and documented on 28 October 1982. Recognizing the importance of protecting natural systems and maintaining balance and quality of nature as well as conservation of natural resources the general assembly decided the code of conduct of activities of human beings. However, this move was also inspired by the selfish mind of human as he is concerned about its present and future generation, as natural as me and you are concerned about our families.
The basics of Environmental and Climate Literacy lie in the five principles of conservation proclaimed in the World Charter for Nature. The charter states that human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged by these principles. Let’s see what are they and how much our activities comply with.
World Charter for Nature – General Principles
1. Nature shall be respected and its essential processes shall not be impaired.
Yes, we do respect nature and that’s why we offer prayers and seek its permission before digging land for constructing houses, before taking water from river Ganga, offering chants from Vedas to please the believed Gods of the five elements – land, water, fire, air, ether. But we have no control over our actions. We are never satisfied with least, we want most. Our needs are increasing; rather we are unable to differentiate between need and luxury. In this process, we are impairing the essential natural processes and trying to mend them as per our own needs.
2. The genetic viability on the earth shall not be compromised; the population levels of all life forms, wild and domesticated, must be least sufficient for their survival, and to this end, necessary habitats shall be safeguarded.
We are invading across our boundaries, our population is exploding and we are expanding in the territories of other life forms as encroachers. Reading this principle recalls me a conversation with a responsible citizen D of our nature loving society since birds are disturbed by sound and other pollutions and interference due to a mine what can be done for them. D’s suggestion was alternative habitat, I was feeling quizzed as we cannot give the new address to birds, we can just help them finding new resources. D said they don’t need help what you will do to help birds. My reply was to stop the mine if it’s creating so much problem and we have no alternative. D said that’s not possible also in such situation there was no need for this discussion. I was left with a question in my mind why we cannot go for the alternative to the problems caused by mine but we are ready to serve alternatives to birds.
3. All areas of the earth, both land, and sea, shall be subject to these principles of conservation; special protection shall be given to unique areas, to representative samples of all the different types of ecosystems and to the habitats of rare or endangered species.
We are ready for that and even working for that but how far it is possible at the current rate of invasions by the human. We are not aware that which is rare, which is endangered, which is unique. What we know is which is important, useful and economic for us. And this is what we are happy with.
4. Ecosystems and organisms as well as the land, marine and atmospheric resources that are utilized by man, shall be managed to achieve and maintain optimum sustainable productivity, but not in such a way as to endanger the integrity of those other ecosystems or species with which they coexist.
Sustainability, a term well understood when we are talking about the sustainable economic return and least concerned when we are talking about natural resources. During an interaction once a brainy group argued that sitting in an office or conference hall and distributing suggestions to a handful of people is quite easy and quenching. They asked why we don’t go out to tell the common man who is half or even more buried in the filth of selfishness and exploiting natural resources. For such brainy people, my reply will be, when a person tells you to conserve resources and tells you the ways to do so is actually sharing his knowledge and trying to make you aware, at the same time he is also sharing the responsibility to share and aware others. Now, these handfuls of people are equally responsible if an awareness and awakening are not reaching common people. These handfuls of people broke the chain to transfer knowledge and awareness and the first person’s attempt to convey information to the common man failed.
5. Nature shall be secured against degradation caused by warfare or other hostile activities.
If we follow the previous four principles then this fifth one will be automatically followed.
In any corner of the planet, any country of any continent and if we ask any person the question, WHAT IS NATURE? The reply will be same, nature is me, nature is you, nature is healing from disease, nature is fresh air, nature is where we live, nature is what we eat, I am a part of nature as I am using its resources and it is keeping me alive, so I am also nature.
By following this charter we can judge our activities; the activities which are affecting nature but affecting us as ‘we are not just part of nature, we are nature’.