Environment

Making sense of planting more trees on 'Only One Earth'

World Environment Day 2022: Repeating the WED theme “Only One Earth” after 50 long years is a reminder to all the people in the world that the planet Earth is our only home and humanity must safeguard its finite natural resources. It reiterates the need to live sustainably in harmony with nature.

ByNaorem Munal Meitei

Updated 5 Jun 2022, 5:20 pm

(Photo: IFP)
(Photo: IFP)

 

Countries across the world are celebrating the planet Earth’s biggest environmental event, the World Environment Day on June 5 with Sweden as the global host. The WED 2022 theme is “Only One Earth”.

“Only One Earth” was also the theme of the first World Environment Day which was observed 50 years ago, in 1974 in the city of Spokane, United States. The World Environment Day was established in 1972 by the UN General Assembly during the Stockholm Conference.

Repeating the WED theme “Only One Earth” is a reminder to all the people in the world that the planet Earth is our only home and humanity must safeguard its finite natural resources. It reiterates the need to live sustainably in harmony with nature.

People who have seen mother Earth from space felt the awe and responsibility to save the earth. It serves as the people’s day for doing something positive for mother earth. WED also reminds us to care for our pristine environment. Healthier the environment, richer is the biodiversity and greater will be the yield benefits.

The loss and making sense of planting trees

Planting trees is the easiest way to battle the current environmental problems to soak up the excess CO2 from the air. Trees and forests are the critical part of the solution to the climate crisis and collapse of biodiversity. In 2019, a paper published in Science journal created a furor that if the 900 million hectare land available on earth is reforested, it would help to store 205 gigatonnes of carbon, which will be our most effective climate change solution till date.

Intuitively, planting trees makes sense, especially when high degrees of forest are lost around the world. Even in 2021, when we are in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world lost about 6 million hectares of forests according to data published by Global Forest Watch.

Now, saving the environment should be put in the category of national security. To defend our natural resources is equally important as to defend from neighbours.

Protecting our environment is everyone's responsibility

Needless to mention, our blue planet is the only place in the universe inhabitable by living beings. Yet, our so-called home is visibly losing its vitality and untouched natural resources owing to the reckless policies and ruinous acts of the wise human beings. Its resources are being exhausted and the safe source of livelihood for mankind is gravely endangered.

Alarming environmental challenges, disasters, unprecedented and unheard of before, occur at a greater rate across the world. Climate change with ensuing water scarcity, desertification, melting of ice, sea level rise, soil and vegetation degradation lead not only to depletion of natural resources, but threaten the social and economic development of the entire world.

The oceans absorb almost 25 per cent of all human CO2 emissions. The gas then combines with other elements to form carbolic acid. Over the last 250 years, surface acidity of the ocean has increased by 30 per cent. The acidity is expected to increase by 150 per cent in 2100. With such over acidification, all the sea creatures more importantly, the plankton which produces 65 per cent of all the earth’s oxygen is on the brink of extinction.

The clearing of forests continues at an alarming rate of 20 football grounds per minute. Around 4-7 billion trees are cut globally per year but annual afforestation and natural germination together accounts for one per cent only. A tree can store 1 ton of CO2 in its life and can produce O2 for 10 persons a year. Hence, it is really miserable.

In India in 2018, Churu in Rajasthan, the temperature shot up to 50.8° Celsius. The climatic conditions then were really unbearable for infants and elderly to live in. But if we do not care for our environment today, it is inevitable to face an extreme heat weather condition in the coming years.

Also, owing to lack of annual monsoon rainfall, the whole country is facing acute water crisis and frequent thunderstorms like Yaas, Helen, Phalin, Hudhud, Fani and Asani etc.

Advertisement

The country saw the warmest March in 2022 since the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) began keeping records 122 years ago and the whole country is expected to face the hottest year this time.

Population explosion trouble

Population explosion across the world is at the root cause of all environmental issues facing the planet Earth today. Population will surely cause the environmental meltdown and mankind will require two earths by 2030.

According to reports, India with 2.8 per cent of the global geographical area will be the most populous country by 2030 surpassing China with 1.51 billion presenting 21 per cent of the world population i.e. one out of every five people in the world is Indian. We also support 20 per cent of earth's cattle population, but luckily the country owns 7.8 per cent of the global biodiversity in the four Mega Hot Spots.

To ensure sufficient food, water and livelihood for the entire population, the country’s daily requirement will be almost doubled at that time. Unluckily, annual precipitation is likely to reduce tremendously thereby decreasing the food production and creating a huge gap between the demand and supply.

The rainfall type on those days will be very haphazard and hazardous to people on planet Earth. As dry places may get more rainfall and the rest with almost nil to negligible rainfall, such a weather condition may lead to severe drought and famine all over the country.

The rainfall will be for a shorter period accompanied by cloudburst and downpour, thereby causing floods, landslides everywhere, leading to huge loss of forest areas, crops, lives and properties.

Impending migration to colder regions

The pollution level in air, water and soil may shoot up to three times of the present condition and temperature will rise around 55°Celsius in almost all the parts of the country. Hence, people will be forced to concentrate their settlement or habitats in the colder regions. This may result in a huge social and political problem.

Also, heat waves mixed with drought conditions can trigger intense wildfires that cause high levels of air pollution accompanied by heavy cyclones and storms. Due to these multifarious environmental issues, the country will be in turmoil both in politics, Law & Order and governance.

At that time 80 per cent of the Himalayan glaciers might be melting away which may result in abrupt changes in the climatic condition of the sub-continent and submerging of many parts of low lying areas. At that time, most of our snow-fed rivers might dry up, leading to water scarcity.

The booming illegal trade in wildlife products is eroding Earth’s precious biodiversity, robbing us from our natural heritage and pushing the whole species toward extinction.

The killing and smuggling of wildlife is also undermining economies, fuelling organized crime and feeding corruption and insecurity across the globe.

Illegal trade in wildlife is the largest trade in the world ahead of drugs and arms. The loss of biodiversity is to the tune of 1 species per 20 minutes and thus most species may be wiped out by 2100.

Enabling people for a decent source of livelihood and at the same time ensuring the conservation and safety of wetlands and the ecosystem as a whole are our primary objectives.

The country has recorded 757,000 wetlands and 37 Ramsar sites with 15.3 million ha which is 4.7 per cent of the total geographical areas. Our wetlands support 23 per cent reptiles, 13 per cent amphibians, 23 per cent fishes, 65 per cent birds and 26 per cent mammalian species. But we have lost 30 per cent of our wetlands, the cradles for our biodiversity due to unending expansion in urbanization, land use change and ever-growing pollution.

The biggest menace – plastic wastes

Advertisement

Plastic wastes are the biggest menace for the world today. The used plastics that we dispose of affect the lives of everyone on the earth. Plastic wastes affect marine animals, pollution of soil, air and water, blockage of channels, drains, rivers, streams, landscape disfigurement, and nature including the future generations. This is because plastic takes too many years to decompose and it releases toxic substances like dioxins, furans, mercury and BPAs into the environment.

This year, the world will consume 5 trillion plastic bags – that is 20 lakh plastic wastes a minute. It is again 75 kg per person annually. If these plastics are put one after another, they would go around the earth seven times every hour and can cover half of India. Besides, the Covid-19 pandemic has also compelled billions of people across the world to use masks which are made up of polypropyline, which takes about 450 years to decompose.

Environmental crisis in Manipur?

The environmental crisis of Manipur will be in turmoil. The main source of air pollution in the state has been identified as auto exhaust emissions of the fast growing number of automobiles, dust-fall due to bad road management and other miscellaneous commercial earthmoving activities undertaken for development projects.

The major sources of pollution of river water in Manipur are sewage and plastics. The district with the worst air pollution in Manipur is Thoubal, where PM2.5 is forecast to be 7.6 µg/m3.

As per a report from the State Transport Department, the number of vehicles registered in the state during 2020-21 was around 36,000 vehicles. The hill districts too have been witnessing the increase in the number of vehicles, including heavy vehicles in recent years. We know that when one litre of petrol burns, three kilo moles of CO2 are emitted. Such increase in the number of transport vehicles in the state has also caused a huge challenge to our climatic condition of this land-log state.

In Manipur, there are 155 freshwater lakes and two ox-bow lakes. But more than 64 per cent of our wetlands have disappeared during the last eight decades.

The state wetlands constitute about 2.37 per cent of the geographical area of the state. The numbers of floral species in wetlands so far identified are 86 species, but counted 110 species of amphibians and reptiles among 580 species so far found in India.

Although the state lost 18 species of fishes, we have counted 120 species while the country has 1700 fish species. Such a faunal richness of our wetland represents 10.80 per cent of the whole country though the state constitutes only 0.7 per cent of the country’s geographical area.

Manipur with 77.12 per cent forests has lost 449 sq. km and 249 sq km of forests during 2017-2019 and 2019-2021 respectively due to large-scale poppy plantation, jhum cultivation, and indiscriminate felling of trees along with 4000 sq km lost of bamboo brakes.

Pitiful wildlife condition in Manipur

The present status of wildlife in Manipur is pitiful. In hill districts, today also there is the tradition and uncontrolled culture of hunting. Meats of many scheduled animals are sold without restrictions. District authorities are still issuing gun licenses which are mainly meant for hunting. Thus, the wild animals that were once found abundantly in the rain forest region have now become almost extinct and the few remaining also have started to enter human habitations.

Nature is sending out mankind a message, specifically that the survival of mankind is on the verge of a breakdown. It is time to wake up. It is time to take notice of the deterioration and degradation of our natural environment. It is time to reformulate man’s relationship with Nature. It is time to restore equilibrium between man and mother nature.

Therefore, with the celebration of World Environment Day, 2022 here today, we urge every individual to come forward and act together to find a long term solution for a green and beautiful planet right now because tomorrow may be too late.

Individual participation and collective efforts in planting of trees and all types of plants in all available barren land will be the best option for taking part in the World Environment Day this year for the sake of saving our mother earth and our future generation.

(The views expressed are personal)

Advertisement

First published:

Tags:

climate changeecosystembiodiversitydeforestationearthgreenhouseworld environment day 2022planet

Naorem Munal Meitei

Naorem Munal Meitei

Environmentalist. May reach the author at nmunall@yahoo.in

Advertisement

Top Stories

Loading data...
Advertisement

IFP Exclusive

Loading data...
Advertisement

Feedback

Have a complaint, a suggestion or just some feedback about our content? Please write to onlineifp@gmail.com and we’ll do our best to address it.