With nine out of ten people being exposed to levels of air pollutants that exceed the safety standards set by the World Health Organization, the world today stands forth an urgent task at hand. Prosperity at the price of air quality is a matter of global concern. As the human race evolves on this planet through means of science and technology advancements, they have become all-powerful to transform the environment in immeasurable ways and at an exceptional scale. Therefore, in accordance with the global need of the hour, ‘Beat Air Pollution’ was chosen as the theme for the World Environment Day 2019. Bringing attention to the pressing environmental concerns and its effect on humans and other living beings, the call to combat this global crisis is of utmost importance.
The World Environment Day is annually organized by the United Nations Environment Programme, which is the leading global voice on environment and related issues. It brings together all stakeholders including government, industries, communities and individuals to explore greener technologies and improve air quality across the world. With China as the global host of 2019’s World Environment Day celebrations, it leads by example as it demonstrates domestic measures adopted by the nation that has resulted in the country emerging as a climate leader.
Tackling air pollution crisis cannot be independent of the understanding of its major constituents. Hence, to improve the air we breathe, we must first get a better understanding of its sources of production. Each sector varying from public, private to an individual household, in some way contributes to the toxic air that lurks around all beings.
Wildlife SOS seized this international occasion to educate the public on issues of environmental concern, mobilize resources and youth to address the global problems and make a difference by undertaking small yet significant changes. The team based out of Jammu and Kashmir, actively organized an interactive seminar for the students of the Green Valley Educational Institute, to come forward and speak on the severity of the effects of air pollution. This was followed by a painting competition, where the students painted in line with the theme of the celebrations. The meritorious students were also awarded by the Principal of the school in the honorable company of the Wildlife Warden (Central Division), members of the J&K Protection Department and renowned Painting Instructor Mr. Showkat Kathja.
In Delhi, the team in collaboration with the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary organized a Plantation and Cleanliness Drive in the early hours of the day. Urging inhabitants of the city to take a conscious step in eradicating plastic waste from being dumped in the forest patches of the city, the team also undertook a plantation drive with wildlife enthusiasts and members of the Bombay Natural History Society as participants.
At the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, the team along with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department Officers conducted an awareness talk, where Wildlife SOS Director Conservation Projects -Baiju Raj M.V., shed light on the rising levels of air pollution and some remedies that can be incorporated at grassroots level to help contain it. The group along with volunteers collectively undertook a plantation drive at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility.
In Maharashtra, a team from the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Center accompanied by 11 Forest Department Officials and the Range Forest Officer planted tree saplings in the leopard enclosures. Trees act as natural carbon sinks that help combat the high levels of carbon dioxide, which forms the basis of the greenhouse effect and further heats the planet. Hence, planting trees remains one of the most cost-effective means of alleviating greenhouse effect.
Celebrating World Environment Day in Bangalore, the team at the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Center accompanied by the volunteers from the SAFE ( Sustainability and Forests Education) Club of the Christ University planted almost 75 seed and plant saplings of 5 native species at the center.
It was extremely thrilling to watch so many participants and volunteers across all regions step ahead and join this global movement to take care of our Planet Earth. Air pollution affects one and all and nation states have to work collectively to improve the air we breathe.