Photo: (Greenpeace)

Mèrida, Yucatàn (April 22, 2021) (GREENPEACE).- This April 22 is Earth Day, declared in 2009 by the United Nations General Assembly. Actually, 50 years ago, the world celebrated this date; however, this time the anniversary makes more sense than ever. 

According to the United Nations Environment Program, the first Earth Day took place in 1970, when 20 million people in the United States took to the streets to protest what they considered an environmental crisis: oil spills, smog, and river pollution. According to National Geographic, the senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, would have started this movement in 1960, but it took several years for his call to take care of the environment to take effect. 

Forests on Earth Day
Forests on Earth Day. Photo: (Greenpeace)

“It was the largest civic event on the planet at the time and forced governments to take concrete action, including passing environmental laws and establishing agencies dedicated to the environment. In addition to these concrete results, the event demonstrated how much can be achieved when people come together and demand action ”, said the United Nations in the context of this date.

Since then, each year the Earth Day, also known as Mother Earth Day or Planet Earth Day, is commemorated with different activities by governments and citizens. However, this year that we are going through a pandemic that keeps economies paralyzed, it takes on a special meaning.

According to the United Nations, the coronavirus outbreak represents a huge risk to public health and the global economy, but also to biological diversity. However, biodiversity may be part of the solution, as a diversity of species makes it difficult for pathogens to spread rapidly. For this reason, this Earth Day focuses on the role of biological diversity as an indicator of the health of the planet. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warned that 1 million species are in danger of extinction, more than at any other time in the history of the humanity, due to the impacts of human activity.

Polar bears on melting ice
Polar bears on melting ice. Photo: (Greenpeace)

Changes in biodiversity affect the functioning of ecosystems and can cause significant alterations in the goods and services they provide. Specific links between health and biodiversity include potential impacts on nutrition, health research, and traditional medicine, the generation of new infectious diseases, and significant changes in the distribution of plants, pathogens, animals, and even human settlements, something that may be encouraged due to climate change, according to the United Nations. 

Make every day an earth day! Photo: (Greenpeace)

Fifty years after the first call to protect the planet, we are facing a global epidemiological problem. The most unprotected populations also face the impact of climate change, famine, lack of water and disease, and animals face the threat of extinction due to human activity every day. One day is no longer enough, let’s make every day an Earth Day and protect our planet. 

The Yucatan Times
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