By Prasanna Tati
Earth Day is annually celebrated by millions of people throughout the world on April 22nd to show support for environmental protection and conservation. The holiday was first celebrated in 1970, and featured only a few countries. This year, over 120 countries including America, China, and France will signed the Paris Climate Agreement to make a commitment to climate protection.
In the history of mankind, as far as scientists know, there have never been such high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, pollution on the planet, and damage to the environment. Most of the injuries to our planet are the direct results of human selfishness and ignorance.
In fact, did you know that there is an island speculated to be twice the size of the continental United States floating in the Pacific Ocean composed entirely of plastic and chemical wastes from the United States? This area of water is so toxic that no marine life exists there, and any marine life that comes in contact with, ingests these toxins, and survives eventually ends up in grocery stores for human consumption. What is worse is that this is not the only “garbage island” in the world. In fact, there are known to be at least two other in oceans such as the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Compared to other pollution events, Trash Island is a mere grain of sand in a rocky shore. Over one trillion tons of sewage are dumped into American waters every year where fish ingest the toxic chemicals and pathogens and once again, eventually end up on grocery store shelves for our consumption.
For every anthropogenic contribution to pollution, there is an equal effect on global health from birth defects to lung disease to cancer and beyond. Though it will likely be long before humans are ready to give up fossil fuels, there are a number of adjustments that everyone can make to reduce carbon footprints.
A carbon footprint is how much carbon an individual contributes to the atmosphere. Carbon is a global warming-causing greenhouse gas. If carbon footprints continue to increase in magnitude, sea levels will rise, cities will be underwater, organisms will lose their habitats and possibly go extinct, and agricultural output will decline. Unfortunately, these are only a few of the consequences.
In order to do your part, adopt a few changes starting this Earth Day. Turn off lights when they are not in use, and if you are afraid of the dark, invest in a solar-powered lantern. Set a timer for 10 minutes when taking a shower, so that you do not waste water if you lose track of time. And finally, unplug any electrical plugs, especially phone and laptop chargers, when they are not in use. Even if a phone is not connected to the charger, the plug will continue to use energy from the outlet.
Though the difference you are making may not be tangible or obvious, you are still nobly doing your part to take care of our only home not only for yourself but also generations to come. Let’s treat every day like it is Earth Day.