By Bill Fox/Columnist
What possibly has been good during the past year of COVID restrictions? I recall seeing pictures of Beijing before COVID where it appeared, with the pollution, the city was in a blinding fog. With all the restrictions, a short time later, the air cleared up and you could see people riding their bikes again. I can’t speak for everyone, but it appears to me that many more people are taking nature walks and have a renewed appreciation for Mother Nature.
In 2009, April 22 was officially named by the UN as “International Mother Earth Day.” Now, every year on April 22, people can be seen collecting garbage, planting trees, cleaning up beaches, and planning for a better future for our planet. About one billion people now recognize Earth Day each year as it falls on April 22.
In the decades leading up to the first Earth Day, many of us may remember gas-guzzling large automobiles that used vast amounts of leaded gas. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of the damage it might be doing to the health of the population. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the price to pay for industrialization. Until this point, people remained largely oblivious to environmental concerns and how pollution threatened all life on our planet.
Some would say that with Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962, people began to get concerned about the environment. The book has sold over six million copies and raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment, and the links between pollution and public health.
I want to focus on concern for living organisms in a future column, but for now, the Retired Teachers of Ontario suggested some simple ways to celebrate Earth Day this year. The first letter of each suggestion spells EARTH:
Exercise by plogging – pick up litter while you jog around your neighbourhood.
Acknowledge the Indigenous land by taking a moment to reflect on its traditional stewards.
Reduce your carbon footprint by decreasing water waste, composting, and shopping locally.
Talk to the plants and trees as you walk through the forest to help connect with nature.
Host a seedling or plant swap with your friends to help promote biodiversity.
If you have Netflix, I highly suggest you watch Seaspiracy to realize that we, again, are destroying living organisms in the name of need and greed!
The film warns that if we continue to pillage the oceans they will be virtually empty of fish by 2048. The experts claim that fishing takes 2.7 trillion fish from the oceans every year. If this rate continues, marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Alice Earle insists the oceans cannot survive.
Fishing methods are destroying more than just fish. The documentary shares that methods such as “bottom crawling” are decimating the ocean floor. Bottom crawling involves hauling heavy nets across the seabed and thus, it is believed to destroy around 3.9 billion acres of seabed every year. This bottom crawling kills Phytoplankton, which are microscopic marine organisms that sit at the bottom of the food chain. They are food for other plankton and small fish, as well as larger animals such as whales. Phytoplankton get their energy from carbon dioxide through photosynthesis (like plants) and so are very important in carbon recycling. It seems phytoplankton are rather good at absorbing carbon dioxide, which is essential for reducing the Earth’s carbon footprint and slowing down global warming.
Seaspiracy also claims that there isn’t an industry on the planet that has taken the lives of this many mammals. Why? Partly because fish are farmed in such large numbers and high quantities, but also because the methods the fishermen use to catch fish wipe out much more than just the fish they hope to catch. The nets fill up with dolphins, small whales, sharks, etc.
This coming Earth Day, I’m hoping to be a little kinder to all forms of life, and with a little more loving, my life and yours may be better day-by-day.
I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org, happy to have received my COVID vaccination last week, and hoping I don’t have to wait 16 more weeks to get my second shot.