Friday, June 5, 2015

World Environment Day 2015



Today is World Environment Day 2015, a day designated by the United Nations for calling attention to, and inspiring action on, the environmental issues affecting our planet and its inhabitants. Previous years have focused on food waste and rising sea levels. This year's theme is a hefty one, dealing with the issue of sustainability and our global society's voracious over-consumption of natural resources:
Seven billion dreams.
One planet.
Consume with care.

After reading the theme statement above, I had to stop and let it soak in for a few moments. That last line speaks directly to the theme of sustainable living, but those first two lines underline why consuming with care is so important. There are seven billion people on this planet; each a living, breathing person with hopes and dreams and needs. Because we have only one planet to share, it is our responsibility to act with care while realizing that whatever damage we inflict upon the planet, we also inflict upon our neighbors and ourselves.

A short message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urges "Let us think about the environmental consequences of the choices we make. Let us become better stewards of the planet." on this World Environment Day.

How do we become better stewards? Being informed is key.

Start by calculating your own ecological footprint at Footprint Network. For this interactive quiz, I recommend choosing the detailed answers in order to receive a more accurate result. The quiz will provide your ecological footprint in terms of global acres required to sustain your lifestyle, the number of earths that would be needed if everyone on the planet lived like you, and a breakdown of which components of your lifestyle contribute most to your footprint.  The result will probably shock you. I took the quiz, and if everyone on the planet lived like me, we'd need 4.8 earths to provide enough resources! Since we only have one earth, my personal resource consumption is clearly not sustainable.

Next, start doing what Ban Ki-moon asks in his statement above: think of the environmental consequences of your choices. Each choice we make, whether it's our method of transportation, the food we eat, or the products we purchase, have consequences in terms of resource use. This was demonstrated when you took your ecological footprint quiz. You can clearly see which choices add to your environmental impact - and add to the amount of the earth's resources you're personally using. At the end of the quiz, you're provided with suggestions on ways you can decrease your footprint, so be sure to read through those as well, and then put them into action! A little bit of conscious effort in our daily lives will go a long way toward minimizing our personal over-consumption and waste of our one planet's limited resources.

Lastly, take a look at some of the previous entries on this blog (found on the Going Green page), for further options to clean up your ecological footprint and be mindful of the environment with your choices:

The issue of sustainable consumption and overuse of natural resources is pervasive, touching every part of our planet. We consume the land through industrial agriculture, logging, mining, building and development. We consume the air and fill it with pollutants from our vehicles, manufacturing facilities, and power plants. We consume the water by drinking it, watering lawns with it, flushing pollutants into it, harnessing it with dams for drinking and electricity, and harvesting the species that live in it.

Keep in mind that conducting our society in an ecologically sustainable way is not just about "the planet"; that impersonal, ambivalent term with which we have no emotional connection. A sustainable future is necessary for the wellbeing of the seven billion humans and millions of other species who live on the planet. Living beings with dreams and feelings and a right to a good life. This is why the World Environment Day 2015 theme statement is so profound and almost unsettling. It ties us, along with our needs and dreams, directly to the fate of the earth and our ability to truly care for others and take seriously our responsibility to be good, ethical, intelligent stewards of this place we call home.
Seven billion dreams.
One planet.
Consume with care.

Let us think about the environmental consequences of the choices we make. Let us become better stewards of our planet. - See more at: http://unep.org/wed/messages/SG-WED-Message.asp#sthash.F4ym9Sg0.dpuf
Let us think about the environmental consequences of the choices we make. Let us become better stewards of our planet. - See more at: http://unep.org/wed/messages/SG-WED-Message.asp#sthash.RX88UpKQ.dpuf
Let us think about the environmental consequences of the choices we make. Let us become better stewards of our planet. - See more at: http://unep.org/wed/messages/SG-WED-Message.asp#sthash.RX88UpKQ.dpuf

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