“Climate change is real. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take this evening for granted.” said Leonardo Dicaprio, while finally holding his Oscar trophy on the stage in front of the audience. In contemporary society, we buy a lot and spend a lot; we live in a consumer culture. In accordance to the law of supply and demand, mass consumption eventually triggers mass production. Our habit of using excessive energy and the greed to gain more resources hurts our Earth. The fragile balance of the Earth's ecosystem is being disrupted and unexpected natural disasters are a regular occurrence. A few days after Korea encountered the first day of spring, heavy snow stroked Seoul and, for the first time in several decades, Hong Kong citizens saw snow in their city in late January. There are several special days that remind the public about our endangered earth. One of them is Earth Day. On April 22nd, 2016, we will be celebrating the 46th Earth Day. Let’s learn about it.
Earth Day, What Are You?
On January 28th, 1969, a rig operated by Union (an American oil company) burst in Santa Barbara. A hundred thousand barrels of oil leaked out contaminating nearby regions, especially the sea. Therefore, on April 22nd, 1970, a United States congressman named Gaylord Nelson and a Harvard University student named Denis Hayes announced the declaration of Earth Day. The main purpose of celebrating Earth Day is to evoke people’s awareness of the importance of keeping our planet healthy and clean. Therefore, on Earth Day, people remind each other and future generations of retaining a clean environment and come up with positive changes for the future. Through conducting active campaigns organized by numerous organizations like congressmen and students, Earth Day was nominated as a world celebration day in 1980. In 2014, 192 countries and over one billion people participated in the celebration of Earth Day in order to spread awareness of issues such as protecting the environment and preventing climate change.
Environmental Campaign and a World Festival
Environmental campaigns are not very famous in Korea, but they are often regarded as festivals overseas. One famous festival takes place in Australia and is called Earth Hour. On that day, which is the last Saturday of March each year, people turn off their lights for an hour from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM. In started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia as a lights-off event to promote reducing energy usage. With just an hour of turning off lights, Sydney saved 6.9 million kw, which is same as planting 1.1 million trees. The event has only taken place for nine years, yet it has developed as a worldwide festival that approximately 7000 cities participate in. It was able to spread quickly and gain public support because even though it is an environmental campaign, cultural events and entertainment are a part of the festival; the scene of the whole city turning off its lights at the same time awes people. They also feel some kind of bond and united as it happens all around the world - even buildings that represent major symbols become dark. Famous Hollywood actors also participate in the festival, which further draws people’s attention. Andrew Garfield, from the movie Amazing Spiderman 2, said, “Earth Hour is a movement that has created a massive impact around the world, so you too, become a superhero just like Spiderman.” Furthermore, Emma Stone also supported the campaign saying, “Earth Hour is special because it is a movement where you can take in change. Earth Hour gives you the power to inspire everyone even if you are just one person.” The hour that anyone can be a hero is Earth Hour.
Earth is Fading Away
If you look at the Earth from space, it could look beautiful, but the actual condition of the Earth inside is not very good. Currently, the circulation of environmental ecology has been tearing apart and thus environmental disasters are forming at a dangerous level. The frequency is rapidly increasing and the size is enlarging into a level that humans may no longer be able to cope with.
The destruction of the ozone layer and the ecological environment is also an extremely serious problem. Human activities put a great negative impact on the global environment. First of all, people are not fully aware of the seriousness of environment destruction. The majority of people live in cosmopolitan regions. For example, approximately 85% of Koreans live in urban areas. Cities are equipped with well-made infrastructure and food, water, and energy are also well provided. Concurrently, 97% of energy and 75% of food are consumed in cities. The point is, even if people outside cities pinpoint some problematic aspect of contamination and environmental destruction, the people living in the city cannot feel it because they cannot see it happening. They cannot be acquainted with the seriousness of environmental issues since the environment they live in is very comfortable, while in the countryside, people are directly influenced by the pollution created by the people living in cities. Therefore, increasing awareness of environmental issues to the public should be the first priority in order to cure Earth.
Problematic aspects of the Earth environment are not due to one problem. It is the problem that is interconnected with every single factor. In order to protect our environment, of course high quality of regulations should be formulated. However, the most important factor of all, is the intense desire of the people. Saving energy from our daily lives and adopting a perception which is caring for others, is the very first step towards protecting our Earth.
Environment Activity in Korea
In South Korea, citizens are actually making efforts to reduce excessive consumption. Every Saturday, at Han River Tuksum, the nation’s biggest market, is open. Every year, 300,000 people participate in this market by buying and selling second-hand goods and commodities. The things that are no longer useful for you could be still useful for somebody else. Therefore, people gather at Tuksum and look for something to buy for a very cheap price. This second-hand market reminds people of saving their belongings. Due to the people’s habit of reducing trash, 700 tons of household waste are reduced.
Actually, not a tremendous amount of time is required to reduce green house gas. It is much simpler than what we think. Simply putting efforts to reduce energy consumption and using public transport in our daily lives could contribute to decreasing CO2 gas and reducing air pollution. The most powerful and wonderful ability that nature owns is the ability to purify. However, such tremendous ability has reached its limit because of incessant human greed. The balance of nature is being destroyed. Hopefully, however, more people will care for Earth. The very first step of recovering the environment is putting small things into action in each person’s daily life. It has now become our responsibility and a promise for Earth and our future generations. < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >