Show respect for ‘Mother’

Earth Day will be celebrated tomorrow for the fortieth year. It is the day when people the world over take time out to reflect on Planet Earth as a whole, and their environment in particular, and the steps they can institute to help keep the two clean and healthy.

Concerns about preserving and keeping the environment in Antigua & Barbuda clean and safe are the same as those which reverberate around the world: oil spills, beach and soil erosion, illegal dumping, and the degrading of coral reefs, among others.

In the ensuing years since the 1970 designation of Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency was created in the United States of America, after residents there took up a call to develop cleaner air, safer water and unpolluted land.

All together, in 1970, both Houses of Congress passed the Clean Air Act and a coalition of labour and environmental groups was instrumental in passing the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In the space of three years after the institution of Earth Day, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act were passed in the US. Other countries have also recorded similar accomplishments.

Over the years, activities to highlight Earth Day have centred around themes to promote planting trees, addressing climate change, preserving biodiversity, establishing eco-labelling programmes to guide consumers toward environmentally preferable goods and services and the Greenhouse Effect.

Global warming and the climate change issues had not been conceived in 1970, but are now occupying prominent spots on daily newscasts all over the globe.

Heads of countries regularly convene summits to find ways and means to combat the encroaching environmental problems posed by climate change. This phenomenon has the propensity to impact several aspects vital to the survival of all the life forms that occupy the planet, such as food security and safety, and bio-energy. But the heads seem to be in a quandary about solutions to the problem.

More than one billion people in 190 countries around the world are expected to take part in some sort of action for this year’s observance of Earth Day.

One suggestion for Earth Day 2010 is that while climate change presents the biggest challenge to the planet at this time, it can also be looked at from the point of view that it is also presenting a great opportunity for all to work together to build healthy, prosperous, and clean energy economies for now and the future.

With all projections that involve preserving our resources for sustainability well into the future, where do we look but to the children, the generations that are charged with carrying on the mantle of survival?

From the very onset, schools and schoolchildren were approached from the standpoint that they played an integral role in the support needed for the formation and continuation of the activities to mark Earth Day.

The suggestion is, schools, communities and homes can introduce art and craft projects designed to  stimulate interest and awareness by researching the problems affecting their surroundings, their country and the world in general.

Slogan competitions, singing and composing songs involving the Reduce, Recycle, Re-use theme are just two examples of activities that children would enjoy.

Here in Antigua & Barbuda our local environmental group finds it necessary to celebrate Earth Week and they have organised a number of activities around the theme of preserving the environment.

Today, people are being asked to plant a tree and the organisation will be leading the way with a tree planting exercise at the Fisheries Complex in Urlings.

While the exercise is laudable, one of the most important ways to show respect for our environment is to keep it clean. Time and time again we have used words and pictures to highlight the problem of littering and illegal dumping on the highways and byways of this country.

Is it too much to expect on this Earth Day, we show some appreciation for our Mother by treating her kindly and keeping her as the creator intended?