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Commentary

Take a stand for our planet’s health

05:09 AM April 23, 2018

Twenty-eight years ago, on April 22, 1990, more than 200 million people worldwide participated in the Earth Day rally to highlight our responsibility as residents of Earth: to take an individual stand for the health of the planet.

Consider the following:

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We’re losing our rainforests — an annual loss as big as half of Mindanao. One billion trees, our source of oxygen, are cut down yearly for disposable diapers alone (excluding other commercial purposes), according to American ecologist Billy Goodman.

The hottest recorded years so far were due to the greenhouse effect, in which carbon dioxide from industrial plants and vehicles traps the Earth’s heat in the atmosphere. Each of the billions of automobiles today releases 80 pounds of carbon dioxide daily.

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While trees emit oxygen to cool down Earth and absorb carbon dioxide which pollutes it, they vanish due to illegal loggers’ greed.

Toxic waste from industries and illegal garbage dumping harm the ocean and marine ecosystem. About 5 million tons of produced oil end up in the seas yearly.

Mining disasters which spewed toxic mine tailings into the rivers have killed off fish and marine life, the staple food for many.

Sulfur oxide from power plants and nitrogen oxide gases from automobiles cause acid rain, which kill wildlife and plants in wetlands. It reduces our food sources.

Wars do not only kill people but also severely damage our environment. Scientists have proved that nuclear pollution
exists: Each of us has tiny amounts of radioactive particles in our body.

World War II alone killed 50 million people, while the hundreds of conflicts since then have claimed tens of millions of human lives.

While the health problems of Earth and its people have not been fully arrested, some world leaders are wasting $1.5 million every minute producing nuclear weapons and “Star Wars” weaponry instead of investing the money to save our dying planet.

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With these devastating global problems, what can we do to save Earth? It needs global responses which we can initiate locally:

Apart from cleaning our homes and backyards and stopping the dumping of garbage and other wastes in waterways, a lasting solution to food shortage, global warming, pollution, the greenhouse effect, and acid rain is to plant more trees — now. It takes time, but it must be done for the next generations.

We can guide kids and young adults to make some significant moves. For example, the Ecology Kid Corps of America then caught the world’s attention for its boycott of products that damage the environment.

Two world peace leaders, Benjamin B. Ferencz and Ken Keyes Jr., were the first to present a novel approach to end wars and the destruction of our planet. They motivated everyone to lobby for world disarmament and called for the creation of an effective international law court to punish war crimes and criminals.

With the hope of finding a genuine solution to war and the global arms race, they ask us to send our individual petitions to the UN Secretary General asserting “our right to live with dignity in a healthy environment free from the threats of war.”

As concerned individuals, we must act locally to solve these global problems. Let’s do our share to preserve world peace, and the cleanliness and health of our planet.

After all, Earth may be the only planet in the universe with an abundance of life — fresh air, fertile soils, waters and seas, productive forests. Let’s make our individual stand now!

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Pit M. Maliksi, a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas and Central Texas College, was Most Outstanding Professor for 12 years at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (Sto. Tomas, Batangas).

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TAGS: Earth Day 2018, Inquirer Commentary, Pit M. Maliksi
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