Masters of Health Magazine April 2019 - Page 37

One billion people

Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.

It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders, including Pope Francis, connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on.

Earth Day 2019: Protect Our Species

Find out more about the 2019 theme for Earth Day, to protect threatened and endangered species.

Nature’s gifts to our planet are the millions of species that we know and love, and many more that remain to be discovered. Unfortunately, human beings have irrevocably upset the balance of nature and, as a result, the world is facing the greatest rate of extinction since we lost the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago. But unlike the fate of the dinosaurs, the rapid extinction of species in our world today is the result of human activity.

The unprecedented global destruction and rapid reduction of plant and wildlife populations are directly linked to causes driven by human activity: climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, trafficking and poaching, unsustainable agriculture, pollution and pesticides to name a few. The impacts are far reaching.

If we do not act now, extinction may be humanity’s most enduring legacy. Here are some quick facts on the current wave of extinction and additional information about this problem here.

All living things have an intrinsic value, and each plays a unique role in the complex web of life. We must work together to protect endangered and threatened species: bees, coral reefs, elephants, giraffes, insects, whales and more.

The good news is that the rate of extinctions can still be slowed, and many of our declining, threatened and endangered species can still recover if we work together now to build a united global movement of consumers, voters, educators, faith leaders, and scientists to demand immediate action.

Earth Day Network is asking people to join our Protect our Species campaign.

Our goals are to:

Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.

Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.

Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.

Encourage individual actions such as adopting plant based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.

Additionally, trees have a powerful role in providing well-being in both urban and rural environments. Culturally, trees play a central role in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Trees are also symbols of hospitality in several African communities.

Economic Contributions: Globally, the value of fuelwood and wood-based products is estimated to be worth $400 billion. In the state of New York alone, the forestry industry employs 41,000 people and has a direct output of more than $13 billion. Total carbon storage in U.S. urban trees is estimated at 643 million tons, a service valued at $50 billion.

Uniqueness: European beech and Sycamore maple trees have been observed altering their specific chemical makeup in their buds and leaves to ward off animals consuming their sap or branches.The quaking aspen exists not as a single stand-alone tree, but rather as an interconnected group, united by a layer of underground roots.

Threats to Trees

Deforestation: The removal of trees for commercial, agricultural, and residential purposes occurs all around the world. Rainforests are especially vulnerable. The Amazon rainforest in Brazil has lost 20% of its area since the 1970s, with some scientists estimating that all the world’s rainforests could be lost in the next century.

Climate Change: Growing levels of pollution trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere threatens the ability of trees to convert the carbon into oxygen, thereby weakening their health.[18] Chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, etc.) and climate chaos can also harm a tree’s internal life cycle, including the ability to reproduce

Insects: One of the most pervasive threats to trees around the world is the prevalence of non-native insect species that can cause irreparable damage to trees. In the U.S., 63% of the country’s national forestry is threatened by invasive insects.

Forest Fires: Decreased rainfall and increased temperatures are causing warmer and drier environments, making forests much more fire-prone. Forest fires are also becoming more intense and deadly, releasing more carbon into the atmosphere, and greatly reducing the ecosystem’s ability to recover.

What You Can Do to Help Protect Trees

Support our Trees for the Earth campaign: Launched in 2016, our Trees for the Earth campaign aims to plant 7.8 billion trees — one for each person on Earth — by Earth Day 2020. In addition to tree plantings, the campaign helps secure additional climate commitments.

Advocate for urban trees: As the world becomes more urbanized, it will be important to maintain the urban tree canopy in dense population centers.

Encourage your local government to adopt tree-planting measures and ordinances. Doing so provides both health and economic benefits for the entire community.