Wednesday, 18 March 2009

EQUINOCTIAL EARTH DAY


“The more we exploit nature, the more our options are reduced, until we have only one: To fight for survival.” - Morris K. Udall

Tomorrow is the Equinoctial Earth Day as designated by the United Nations. This is celebrated on the March equinox (around 20th of March) and marks the moment of astronomical mid-spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and of astronomical mid-autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. An equinox in astronomy is the moment in time when the centre of the Sun can be observed to be directly above the Earth's equator, occurring around March 20 and September 23 each year. In most cultures the equinoxes and solstices are considered to separate the seasons.

The idea of a worldwide holiday to be called “Earth Day” was first introduced by John McConnell, a peace activist at a UNESCO Conference on the Environment in 1969. This was adopted by the United Nations and at the moment of the equinox, it is traditional to observe Earth Day by ringing the Japanese Peace Bell (donated by Japan to the United Nations). Over the years celebrations have occurred in various cities globally at the same time as the celebration at the United Nations.

Amidst cries of increasing shrillness and alarm about our changing climate, our dwindling water resources, pollution of our environment and a runaway greenhouse effect, we still have time to actively seek innovative solutions for the future. Earth Day is a means of raising awareness of environmental issues and doing something globally to diminish the destruction of this very fragile planet we are living on. It is certainly a day for taking the message of “Think Globally, Act Locally” to everyone. This adage refers to the argument that global environmental problems can turn into action only by considering ecological, economic, and cultural differences of our local surroundings. This phrase was originated by René Dubos as an advisor to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. In 1979, Dubos suggested that ecological consciousness should begin at home.

Here are some suggestions for reducing your environmental footprint:

1. Become Carbon Neutral, purchase carbon credits (which are used to fund offset activities such as planting trees, or various energy conservation activities).

2. Convert to Green Power through your electricity provider (the electricity provider must produce your electricity needs through the use of clean, renewable energy sourced from the sun, the wind, water and waste, instead of burning coal).

3. Drive as small and fuel efficient car as is suitable to your needs. No status symbols or “Toorak tractors” (Australians are big drivers: Per capita we own more cars than any other nation except the USA. With average use, an Australian family car will travel about 15,000 km a year, generate about six tonnes of greenhouse pollution and cost its owners $7,700).

4. Be aware of the meat you eat. Don't eat Feedlot beef, or even become a vegetarian (animal products make up the biggest part of our Eco Footprint - 34% to be exact. Meat, particularly beef, has a very high environmental impact, using much water and land to produce it, and creating significant greenhouse pollution. In fact if you reduce your intake by one 150 g serve of red meat each week, you'll save 10,000 litres of water and 300 kg of greenhouse pollution in a year. Most conventional meats are resource intensive, but feedlot beef is particularly wasteful. Producing 1 kg of feedlot beef, on average, requires 4.8 kg of grain and over 19800 liters of water. It also results in the erosion of over 2 kg of topsoil).

5. Reduce the electricity consumption of your house and office by switching off lights and computers when not in use and installing energy efficient appliances and fixtures (eg: Replace existing incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent bulbs or the newer LED bulbs. Turn off “power vampires” – ie, appliances on “sleep mode”. Such “power vampires” can cost a typical household up to 11% of the electric bill. Switch to a Solar hot water System if you have an electric hot water system. Switch from electric to gas appliances whenever possible. If you are buying new appliances, choose the product with the best Energy Star Rating that you can afford).

6. Communicate your views to people in power (encourage change by: Contacting your elected member of parliament; Emailing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper; Having face-to-face meetings with your elected officials, which can move them from having a passive stance to taking an active interest).

7. Pressure industry to change its ways (reward a company with your business for doing the right thing by the environment. Abandon them for doing wrong, but make it known to them why they have lost your custom with a letter or email).

8. Eat less fish and be aware of the types of fish that you do consume (the global wild fish harvest has begun a sharp decline since 2000 despite progress in seagoing technologies and intensified fishing. Long-lining, in which a single boat sets line across sixty or more miles of ocean, each baited with up to 10,000 hooks, captures at least 25 percent unwanted catch).

9. Join or support an action group or Green Project that you are interested in (larger groups like the WWF and Greenpeace, are aware of the most pressing issues and have the resources to keep on top of things, however, groups like these often get a bad wrap, but the truth is that most of them highlight and study important issues that governments and companies would otherwise ignore or cover up). See the following links:

http://www1.bushheritage.org/

http://www.australianwildlife.org/index.asp

http://www.paradigmexpeditions.com/big_picture.htm

10. Communicate with other people (family, friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, blog readers!).

Have a great Earth Day tomorrow!

sustainable |səˈstānəbəl| adjective
able to be maintained at a certain rate or level: Sustainable fusion reactions.
Ecology (esp. of development, exploitation, or agriculture) conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.
• Able to be upheld or defended : Sustainable definitions of good educational practice.
DERIVATIVES
sustainability |səˌstānəˈbilitē| |səˈsteɪnəˈbɪlədi| |-ˈbɪlɪti| noun
sustainably |-blē| |səˈsteɪnəbli| adverb
ORIGIN Middle English: From Old French soustenir, from Latin sustinere, from sub- ‘from below’ + tenere ‘hold.’

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