THE theme for the Earth Day 2019 is “Protect Our Species”. Earth Day is an opportunity for government officials worldwide to engage their constituents in a constructive dialogue about issues related to environment and how to foster biodiversity and species conservation in their communities.
It is celebrated to remind each of us that the Earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance. It also recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the earth to achieve and future generations of humanity.
World Mother Earth Day was founded in 1970 and included environmental teach-ins that educated Americans about environmental and species conservation issues, and connected those issues to their health and well-being.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to call for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized demonstrations activated a bipartisan spirit that motivated the passing of Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed.
According to an associate professor of Environmental Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Dr Anthony Okoye, who commented on the significance of the day, human beings have been given the responsibility by God to guard, protect and take care of creation (Gen2:15).
Christians are to adhere to this responsibility through procreation, planting of trees, protecting water catchment areas and conserving the wildlife. Christians believe that the whole creation belongs to God (psalm 24:1).
If we recognize that God commissions us to rule over the creation in a way that sustains, protects, and enhances his works so that all creation may fulfill the purpose God intended for it, then I do not think that we are accountable to him as stewards of the creation.
As a lay man, I cannot categorise this sin of negligence but I know the weight and implication. It is grievous indeed because it affects us and even more our children and the ones unborn.
Environmental Conservation is important because when we protect the environment, we are not protecting some distinct, distant entity but ourselves. Right to life and Right against Exploitation are Fundamental Rights of all organisms dwelling on Earth.
Environment protection is therefore the practice of protecting the natural environment by individuals, organizations and governments. Its objectives are to conserve natural resources and the existing natural environment and, where possible,
to repair damage and reverse trends Due to the pressure of overconsumption, population growth and technology, the biophysical environment is being degraded, sometimes permanently. This has been recognized, and governments have begun placing restraints on activities that cause environmental degradation.
The theme of this year’s Earth Day enjoins us to protect our species. All species play a unique role in complex web of life and contribute to the ecosystem services on which all life on Earth depends, and hence, protecting our species is crucial to the survival of this planet and its inhabitants.
Wild animal populations have declined on average by more than half and the Earth is facing an era of mass extinction. The loss of species is for the most part a result of human activity, including degradation of ecosystems, deforestation, pollution, and climate change.
On the situation of Anambra State and way forward, Dr Okoye said, “Anambra state like every other state in Nigeria continues to urbanize with its attendant population explosion and industrialization. The state is characterized by the presence of more than 2 million residents who throng from other parts of the country into the state seeking for greener pastures.
This shift of human migration has posed problems to the State’s resources, environmental sanitation, infrastructure, specie depletion and others. In terms of the prioritization of the environmental issues of Anambra State, erosion and waste management are both of high priority, flooding and deforestation have medium priority while industrial pollution and biodiversity loss have low priority.
This implies that government of Anambra State should take this year’s world earth day serious as the theme happens to be one of the problems affecting the state.
plant and animal species are being depleted daily during deforestation of any kind including bush burning, commercial felling of trees and others by farmers, business men that deal on wood exploitation, government and individual developers. Because of ignorance or negligence of the fact that these species should be replaced accordingly if removed, several plants and animal species now tends towards extinction. This exacerbates some of the environmental challenges known with the state like erosion.
Hence, it is pertinent that Anambra State government and all citizens, businesses, and institutions use this year’s Earth Day to celebrate the Earth and promote the protection of our species. The state government could achieve this by
Launching a public outreach and education campaign about the importance of conversation efforts for native species and biodiversity.
Publishing and promoting guidelines for individuals on how to protect and help biodiversity thrive in their yards, around their buildings, and in their neighbourhoods and then
Partner with communities to convert vacant lots and buildings into green, productive spaces including community gardens, education or sustainability-minded community centres, and urban farms.”
Concluding, Okoye said, World Earth Day is an annual reminder of the constant need for environmental activism, stewardship, commitments and sustainability efforts. Government is therefore enjoined to play a critical role in protecting biodiversity and educating the public about the importance of species and biodiversity in regard to community health and well-being.
Let us ask St. Francis of Assisi who as a result of his love for animals and the Earth (and for apparently preaching to birds) was made the patron saint of ecologists in 1979 by Pope John Paul II, to pray for us and ask God to give us the grace we need to champion for environmental protection at the state, federal and International level.