(PRESS RELEASE) – The Saint Lucia National Trust invites you to participate in our first Digital Sòlèy Lévé and Sòlèy Kouché events, where persons will be challenged to post an image of a sunset or sunrise and indicate what their personal action will be to take care of the Earth. Prizes include a 1 year membership to the Trust for two winners (one member and one non-member).
We are also pleased to announce that Massy Stores Saint Lucia has come on board and will be giving $50 grocery vouchers to four winning contestants (2 members and 2 non-members) plus grocery hampers valued at $100 will be given to those four winners to present to a family in need, a charity or a first responder in the fight against COVID-19. Visit us on Facebook: Saint Lucia National Trust, Instagram: saint_lucia_national_trust or Twitter: NationalTrustLC for more details.
Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970. Over the past few decades, environmental movements have evolved from initially focusing on ways to reduce pollution and threat caused by toxic waste, to now focusing on global warming and climate change. The Earth Day theme this year is “Climate Action” which calls us to take real steps to address climate change, and the Great Global Cleanup encourages us to clean up the environment. The youth are becoming increasingly involved in these movements as well.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like our fair Helen, are particularly at risk when it comes to climate change. The scale of our economies, over-exploitation, over-harvesting, pollution, deforestation and political insensitivity contribute to some of the issues we already face, which also make it difficult to adapt to increasingly adverse weather conditions as a result of climate change.
The impacts of climate change even exacerbate poverty and suffering resulting from loss of resources, crops and increased spread of infectious agents like viruses. This is why the theme of Earth Day 2020, “Climate Action” is especially relevant for SIDS. Climate change adaptation in SIDS is usually done as awareness-raising, resource management projects, and capacity development to strengthen the socio-economic structures within communities. We should all personally do our part to be aware of what’s going on in the world and ensure we take the necessary precautions in case of extreme weather and events, such as hurricanes, droughts or earthquakes.
Climate change is projected to continue into the next century, due to increased global warming as projected by past greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, even if the emissions were to significantly reduce in the future. The response to this climate change is two pronged.
Countries must mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as adapt to the impacts. Mitigating climate change is done through sustainable practices that result in long-term reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so that future warming will not be as drastic as it has been. Simple things like unplugging appliances when they are not in use, carpooling to avoid greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, and planting trees are measures we can all personally take to help reduce emissions.
On a larger scale, countries like the USA and China should implement policies which limit industries within those countries from emitting greenhouse gases as they are among the largest contributors. SIDS like Saint Lucia, however, which are most heavily impacted by climate change must implement measures which will allow them to adapt to the changing climate and increasingly adverse weather conditions. For example, using sea defences, regulating planning and development, using different farming practices and preparing effectively for disasters.
Environmental degradation contributes to the spread of diseases and other health issues. In 2016 there was an outbreak of anthrax in Siberia due to the bacteria being released from the melting permafrost. There are many other disease-causing microorganisms which have been effectively preserved in polar ice caps for thousands of years but now, as they are melting, we may see their emergence in the coming years. Pollution has also been known to exacerbate health issues, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Areas with high levels of air pollution have had higher proportions of death due to the virus.
The respiratory issues caused by the virus are exacerbated by the pollution in the air, effectively increasing the damage to the respiratory system and making it more fatal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many events and activities to be shut down, otherwise they continue at the risk of those involved. However, some organisations have rallied around the idea that “We don’t shut down – We shift”. The Earth Day Network is one such organisation, which has shifted to a digital platform to commemorate the special day. This adversity has bred innovation in the form of the First Digital Earth Day, which will seek to address the urgent threats to people and planet as a global community. This move will bring us closer than ever as we work in tandem on digital platforms.
Many lessons have been learned over the years and the groundwork has been laid by those who came before us so that we have environment regulations and laws to guide society now. Moving forward it is our responsibility to implement those regulations and go further by ensuring that even our personal lives which we govern, are guided by rules geared toward more sustainable and environmentally responsible practices.