Time to ensure sustainable use of the earth resources

We are in a very critical situation. Earth resources are diminishing at a fast pace. Freshwater reservoirs are getting contaminated and sea intrusion is inundating the fertile lands. Glaciers are melting, sea level rise is increasing and deforestation is rampant in a number of countries of the world.  Climate change and global warming have created alarming situation for all living creatures found on the planet. Shifting weather patterns have increased the chances for catastrophes in coming future. Increased temperatures are resulting in enhanced heat and water stress conditions, particularly in arid and semi arid regions. Recently, we have witnessed devastating floods and heavy rains in Pakistan for two consecutive years during 2010 and 2011.

It is the 42nd anniversary of the Earth Day being marked all over the world. Environmentalists, conservationists, passionate citizens and people who love earth are uniting again for salvation of planet. According to NYT nearly 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day celebrated in 1970. Earth Day is a commitment to make life better, not just bigger and faster,” organizers of the first celebration wrote in their manifesto. Now we expect more people to initiate this campaign of awareness.

When we look at Pakistan’s environmental scenario, it is found that there are 225 significant wetlands and out of them 19 wetlands are declared as Ramsar sites through UN convention of 1971. The convention outlines a broad framework for sustainable use of wetlands. But unfortunately, some of these wetlands are at risk of loss due to water mismanagement and careless attitude of concerned authorities. Keenjhar and Manchar lakes located in Sindh have been adversely affected by untreated toxic effluents coming from industrial areas and other sources.  On the other hand, mangroves which are termed as jewelry of the coastal areas and breeding places for fish are degrading very rapidly. No action is taken against land grabbers and people involved in cutting of the trees. It is pertinent to mention here that out of eight species of mangroves once found in Pakistan, four are left now with one dominant species of Avicennia Marina. Birds and fish have also been affected due to loss of the mangroves. Due to unsustainable fish catching practices, fish resources are also declining in Pakistan.

To show commitment in protecting the earth from all possible challenges, Earth Day is being celebrated today.  Wake-up walks and special events are being organized to highlight the threats confronting natural resources of earth. This day is considered to be a day of action to safeguard the planet from adverse impacts of industrialization, climate change and global warming. It is being emphasized that human footprints should be reduced and environmental sanitation needs to be improved. On this day people unite their voices in support of the earth and pledge to make it pollution free and green. It is time to bridge the gap between human beings and nature. While commenting on the day, WWF – Pakistan Regional Director Rab Nawaz said that people must ensure sustainable use of the earth resources and educate their children about the environment.

In this modern era, social media is powerful medium of communication to reach a vast number of people. Therefore, it can be used to propagate the environmental awareness to large number of masses. People can be mobilized to work on individual as well as collective level to fight for the rights of the earth.

Earth Day provides a better opportunity to plan an effective strategy to address issues confronting our planet. People should realize their responsibilities and play constructive role in reducing the impacts of climate change and global warming. We need to raise environmental awareness and take pragmatic initiatives to tackle the environmental issues. One single organization cannot tackle host of challenges faced by earth. But all stakeholders including government, civil society members, NGOs and media should come forward for protection of earth resources and biodiversity. Urgent and effective measures are required to decrease environmental degradation and develop balanced ecosystem. It seems that oil and gas reservoirs are already depleting, therefore new avenues of alternate energy should be explored such as solar and wind energy and utilized them for betterment of the people. Water and food security concerns should be addressed on urgent basis.  In this regard, it is being suggested that environmental education should be made a compulsory part of school syllabus across Pakistan.