I hope you are feeling inspired by Earth Day. If we can all do just one thing today to show some love to our beleaguered planet, that will be a whole lot of love Earth will receive today 🙂
One simple thing I just did was to support the petition by the CEO of BirdLife International, Patricia Zurita, to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. She has written to the Secretary General of the UN António Guterres, urging the UN to include the right to a healthy natural environment in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the fundamental human rights that must be protected globally. It is time to recognise that the right to a healthy natural environment is essential for the survival of humanity.”
CEO of BirdLife International, Patricia Zurita A new human right: The right to a healthy natural environment
I know during this Covid-19 lockdown, I am far from being the only one who is feeling fortunate that I have a beautiful natural environment right on my doorstep. As the human species, we rely on the natural world so much, including for our own well-being and I think it is so important to recognise this. If we can make it a human right to have a healthy natural environment, this is another clear demonstration of its importance and it can be a line in the sand as we seek to protect and restore our natural environments, in our own localities but on a global scale.
Yes, this is a photo of daisies and dandelions, not plastic … but they looked so sunny and cheerful and beautiful on this bit of Earth right outside my front door and I just felt they captured the positive ‘living zing’ spirit I wanted to share with you today.
On Wednesday 22 April 2020 we celebrate 50 years of Earth Day. In my 2020 Vision post in early January, I anticipated this year’s Earth Day and all of the marvelous get-togethers there’d be for this auspicious occasion. Coronavirus may have prevented in-person gatherings, but that hasn’t stopped massive plans for a digital Earth Day. As the Earth Day website proudly says …
“On April 22, we’re flooding the world with hope, optimism and action. Will you join us?”
WordPress too is joining in with Earth Day Live , which is a 3-day livestream of global climate action in support of this very special place we all call home. You can register to tune in to this massive live event from 22 – 24 April with activists, celebrities, musicians, and all kinds of marvelous stuff. On WordPress you can add the Earth Day Live banner to your site to show your support too.
Talking of our precious planet and marvelous stuff, I have some good news about plastic! Nearly every story we read about plastic is telling us how our over-use and thoughtlessness with this clever material have harmed wildlife and polluted our oceans. So, I was intrigued to read how a company called Carbios has developed a new and fast way of recycling plastic bottles.
An enzyme has been discovered that can break down plastic bottles into their chemical components, enabling them to be recycled into new high quality plastic. Amazingly, a tonne of waste plastic bottles was able to be degraded by 90% in just 10 hours. Carbios are now working with a biotechnology company called Novozymes and they are hoping to have their new plastic recycling enzyme commercially available by 2024.
If you are a gardener, like me, you will also be fascinated to know that this amazing enzyme was first discovered in a compost heap. Making garden compost is a magical transformation in itself, but this latest scientific advance promises to be a significant breakthrough in recycling plastic. It won’t mean our battle against plastic is won, but it could be a very useful step in the right direction.
Staying with my theme of plastic, our local council newsletter this week was sharing how council library staff are doing their bit in the battle against Covid-19 by using their 3-D printers to produce plastic safety visors for our hospital and care workers as they toil heroically to save lives. In the midst of this crisis, we are seeing all kinds of people pulling together and doing their bit to help others. Anyone who has the equipment and skills to print these safety visors can contact the library service and volunteer to help produce this vital equipment for our front-line workers to protect them in the fight against coronavirus.
Nowadays, we have become used to so often seeing plastic in a negative light, I think its current essential use in Personal Protective Equipment for those on the front-line in the Covid-19 crisis shows just how important this material can be. To me, our over-use of plastic is, in a way, similar to our over-use of antibiotics. They are both substances with life-saving abilities, yet their over-use is a huge threat not only to our human lives but to the natural world too. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it doesn’t seem too dramatic to claim that reducing our ubiquitous use of these life-saving substances is so important for the future of life on Earth.
Looking after our Earth is no small responsibility, but I have a good feeling that there are plenty of us who are conditional optimists and prepared to do our bit to make sure the Earth’s future is positive.
I’m riding in a bus on the way to my opticians appointment as I write this post on my phone. New Year resolutions whir in my head. Avoid single use plastic. Focus forwards and stay positive. Use time wisely. But how?
The planet is in crisis. We have only one childhood left to make a difference. Australia is already burning … Jakarta is flooded …
I’m so glad I am not the only one pondering on how we begin to look ahead into 2020 and beyond without being overwhelmed by the craziness of it all.
As the bus drove along, I spotted an email in my inbox from the RSPB’s Conservation Director, a new blog post entitled “2020: why we must remain conditional optimists”. Intrigued, I opened it. Martin Harper explains that he first encountered the idea a couple of years back when the phrase was originally used by Professor Paul Romer on Earth Day 2017 to help explain his ideas on how we might face the challenge of decarbonisation on a global scale.
Professor Romer contrasted the ideas of complacent optimism against conditional optimism. With complacent optimism, we just wait and hope – will we receive what we want? However, conditional optimism is much more dynamic and makes us actors in achieving the result we want – especially when we work together.
Earth Day 2020 on 22nd April will be the 50th anniversary of this worldwide collaboration and mobilisation of people who care about the future of our planet and all its inhabitants. The theme this year will surprise no-one: climate action. Literally billions of people across the world will be doing stuff for Earth Day 2020. I’m sure they will be taking climate action on many other days too.
“Earth Optimism“will be happening in Cambridge, in the UK, hosted by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, a public event with Sir David Attenborough. Earth Optimism is all about celebrating, sharing and replicating the successes in nature conservation across the world. Everyone knows there is still plenty of work to do, but taking action to achieve what we would hope for is certainly a very positive step in the right direction and I will look forward to hearing more Earth Optimism stories in due course.
As expected, my optician confirmed that my vision had changed slightly so it’s new glasses time for me. I might not any longer have 2020 vision but I at least I do now feel that my vision for 2020 is becoming somewhat clearer. I will continue caring for the Earth in whatever ways I can.
As I was leaving the opticians and heading back through town to the bus station, I passed by a Newcastle upon Tyne Christmas institution – Fenwick’s window. Fenwick’s is a large department store in Newcastle and every December its large shop windows host an animated tale, a world from storytime, to delight children and Christmas shoppers. This year we have a glimpse into Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with Quentin Blake’s illustrations beautifully rendered in animated models and tableaux.
So I will leave you with my image from Fenwick’s window – the scene where Charlie has entered the sweet shop to buy his famous chocolate bar. The Evening Gazette’s headline says it all …
The “Last Golden Ticket still to be found”!
I think that sums up nicely how I felt as I started this post – can we find the Golden Ticket that will save the planet? And whilst I can’t claim that I have quite found it, I do believe it will be found …
… because literally billions of us are looking for it.
Best wishes for 2020. I hope you too have also found your reasons to be hopeful this year.
P.S. The bridge photo I chose as the header to this post is called The Butterfly Bridge in Gateshead’s Derwent Valley. The bridge you see is the replacement for an older bridge that was washed away by floods on 6th September 2008.