Challenges around the globe

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Every disease or cause big or small has its own day, week or month. Today the honours go to that place we all call home, the Earth.

A lingering question, though, is whether events like Earth Day or Earth Hour impart a lasting message or education to the public who are celebrating them. It’s a vital point, since we have a great assortment of environmental challenges facing us, and without general participation around the globe to tackle them, it’s hard to see how we can make any progress.

We have to honestly ask ourselves whether such an event, or celebration, as Earth Day is more of a feel-good kind of thing, rather than representing any steps toward getting down to brass tacks on safeguarding the water, earth and air.

Earth Day has been celebrated on this date since 1970 – a time when consciousness about environmental issues was beginning to establish a foothold among average people. At that time events were held largely on campuses and saw young people pressing for more attention by politicians to environmental issues.

Since that time, think about how much discussion occurs between countries, among politicians and scientists about such subjects as the strains put on Earth to support a growing population, about the need to take care of fresh water supplies and about the emissions put in the atmosphere and air we breathe by industry and everyday living.

If we look at an event like Earth Hour, held just weeks ago, and its centrepiece of turning the lights out for an hour to get across the idea of energy conservation, we should ask ourselves if it’s achieving any long-term results. Is it just a fun celebration, or is it helping to get across the need for conservation that’s needed 365 days a year?

We have to be careful to see that people young and old are educated on how to make improvements to lifestyle to ensure that something like Earth Day – which should be every day – doesn’t slip into mere tokenism.

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