Marking the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day
Today, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of an international day of observation that could not come at a more appropriate time: Earth Day. Amidst the global pandemic we are faced with, it is a challenge to focus on practically anything else, let alone another crisis. This crisis has justifiably taken over the international community, and the human impact of the spread of this virus is monumental.
This virus, while harmful to all, presents a significantly greater challenge to the disenfranchised and more vulnerable members of our society. Oxfam has warned that nearly half of all jobs in Africa could be lost and a further 500 million people pushed into poverty unless the international community takes urgent action to deal with the pandemic. While tackling the pandemic and its repercussions is essential, we must not lose sight of the urgency with which we need to fulfill our collective efforts to stop another global crisis: climate change. Like the pandemic – climate change also has the potential to most negatively impact the poorest members of our society. While the pandemic and climate change are entirely different crises, they both have a huge potential impact on the human race, and a disproportionately negative effect on the already disadvantaged members of the global community.
What the spread of this virus has taught us, however, is that when the collective human consciousness is geared towards a singular common goal, we can achieve monumental change. In the past few weeks, we have seen leaders step up to the plate: from the individuals to corporations to entire societies. People have changed the way they work by maintaining social distancing guidelines and staying at home. Many businesses have made incredible sacrifices for the good of humanity, from independent restaurants donating meals to healthcare workers to distilleries alternating their production line to produce hand sanitiser. The international community has come together to help each other and attempt to suppress the virus while minimising the monumental economic impact it has had and will continue to have on our communities. Our reaction to this crisis has shown us that when we work together, we can make the desperately needed changes to lessen the impact of coronavirus. This same cooperation could work to reduce climate change and to deal with practically any crisis that may present itself to our world in the future.
On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we must make an opportunity out of our working together by staying apart. We must emulate the passion with which we are combating the spread of Covid-19 in our fight against global warming. We need to recognise that the human and economic impact of both this pandemic and climate change are monumental for all, but especially damaging for the most vulnerable and helpless members of our societies. Our collective efforts in the last number of weeks have given me immense hope in the fact that we can fight these fights together.