Earth Day is an annual event held on April 22. The dream of the hippy movement of the 1960’s, it is an annual celebration and reminder of the importance of ecology and environmental protection. This year was no exception; there were grand celebrations all over the country celebrating this important reminder to be kind to Mother Earth. The problem is, is it doing any good?
There are some things that don’t look good for our life on Mother Earth, some of which we are responsible for, and some we aren’t. Pollution is one of the biggest killers, affecting more than 100 million worldwide. More than 3 million kids under the age of 5 years die every year due to environmental factors like pollution. Pollution kills more than 1 million seabirds and 100 million mammals every year. More than 1 billion people worldwide don’t have access to safe drinking water and 5000 people die every day as a result of drinking unclean water. The garbage dumped in the ocean every year is roughly around 14 billion pounds. Plastic is the major constituent. Americans buy more than 29 million bottles of water every year. Only 13% of these bottles are recycled every year.m There are two areas in the Pacific, one off the western seaboard and one between Japan and Hawaii that are huge garbage collection points. Oceans are becoming more acidic rue to green house emissions from fossil fuel.
Approximately 46% of the lakes in America are extremely polluted and not safe for swimming, fishing and aquatic life. People who live in high-density air pollution area, have 20% higher risk of dying from lung cancer, than people living in less polluted areas. United States produces 30% of the world’s waste and uses 25 % of the worlds natural resources. The Mississippi River dumps 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution in the Gulf of Mexico every year. Every year around one trillion gallons of untreated sewage and industrial waste is dumped in the U.S water. China is the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide. United States is number 2. There are more than 500 million cars in the world and by 2030 the number will rise to 1 billion. This means pollution level will be more than double.
The tsunami in Japan in 2011 created debris for 70 miles, which consists of cars, plastic, dead bodies and radioactive waste. Pollution in China can change the weather in United States. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 6400 people die every year in Mexico due to air pollution. A single person in United States produces 2 kilograms of garbage every day. In 1987, the U.S. released 1.2 million tons of toxic chemicals into our atmosphere, 670,000 tons into our soil, and 250,000 tons into our water. In the US, 41% of all insecticides are used on corn. Eighty per cent of these are used to treat a pest that could be controlled simply by rotating the corn for one year with any other crop.
Projected increases in fertilizer use for food production and in wastewater effluents over the next three decades suggest there will be a 10-20 percent global increase in river nitrogen flows to coastal ecosystems. Half of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1900. Every day, 2 million tons of human waste is dumped into rivers and waterways. Water pollution is getting worse because known polluters are moving to third world countries that don’t have stringent water regulations.
The world population is predicted to grow from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 8.3 billion in 2030 and to 9.1 billion in 2050. At the same time, urban population is projected to increase by 2.9 billion, to a total of 6.3 billion in 2050. Between 1991 and 2000 over 665,000 people died in 2,557 natural disasters of which 90% were water related. Since 1900 more than 11 million people have died as a consequence of drought and more than 2 billion have been affected by drought, more than any other physical hazard. The frequency and intensity of such hazards is generally rising. A study of 141 countries found that more women than men die from natural hazards, and that this disparity is linked most strongly to women’s unequal socio-economic status. Globally, diarrhea is the leading cause of illness and death, and 88% of diarrheal deaths are due to a lack of access to sanitation facilities, together with inadequate availability of water for hygiene and unsafe drinking water.
While any effort to focus on ecology and environmental protection is important, it is obvious that one day a year is not enough. What is it going to take for you to get involved in the rescue of Mother Earth? Research the ways to reduce pollution. Recycle, carpool and pick up trash where you can. Be conscious about Mother Earth. Our great grandchildren are depending on us.