Earth Day 2010
The 40th Anniversary of Earth Day is April 22, 2010. One of the greatest challenges we are all facing is related to global climate change. The problem may be daunting but there is plenty you can do. The time is now.
It is predicted that billions of people, especially those in developing countries, face greater risks to health and life as a result of climate change. Although they did little to contribute to this global phenomenon, they are bearing the worst of it. Developing countries have fewer social, technological and financial resources to adapt to climate change.
Climate change is anticipated to have effects on the ability of developing countries to make progress towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Governments around the globe have given adaptation plans an urgent priority.
Potential effects of climate change include:
- Increased risk of extreme events such as droughts, floods and tropical cyclones.
- Reduced crop yields resulting in the increased risk of hunger.
- Certain diseases, such as malaria will spread faster.
- Many plant and animal species that indiginous people rely on are at great risk.
- Water, which is already a valuable resource, will become more scarce.
- Sea level rise could lead to inundation of coasts worldwide.
"When the wind changes directions, there are those who build walls and those who build windmills." - Chinese Proverb
What is Plan doing?
Plan works to provide relief for countries that suffer from climate change-related natural disasters through the Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund. For example, when torrential rains caused substantial flooding and landslides in Ecuador in March of 2008, Plan's Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund helped to provide the affected communities with tools, mattresses, blankets, clean water, food, and medical supplies.
The Plan film 'Flood Children of Holdibari' won the World Bank's 2008 Social Dimensions of Climate Change Award. The film focuses on Shapla, who is a member of a Plan youth group. The group created an action plan to prepare for floods.
Holdibari, in North West Bangladesh, is severely affected by flooding due to climate change. Shapla said of the award winning film, "From our forefathers we are living in this miserable situation and risky area. We have no alternative option for living. Nobody had raised our misery before this documentation. Through this video many people will know what were are doing to overcome this. So it is our great achievement."
Want to learn more?
Once you have completed your required summer reading, check out these books. It is easy to talk about problems, but solutions are abundant! (You will also impress your friends and teachers by using words like "anthropogenic" - the influence of human beings on nature.)
The book Our Choice, by former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore is all about solutions. Scientists and experts from around the world weigh in and discuss the potential of things like wind, solar and geothermal energy and lesser known and more novel ideas are introduced. Do you know what cogeneration is? Read this book and find out.
You may also enjoy Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman. It is also solution oriented... with a few less photos! America has always been a leader in the world when it comes to discovery and innovation. In this book, Friedman, a New York Times columnist, discusses how America lost its focus after 9-11. He presents some ideas about how America can lead the world by becoming greener. Clean energy, energy efficiency and conservation are not just buzzwords, but real ways that America can set an example for the world to follow.
What can you do?
You do not have to be an expert on carbon sequestration (storing carbon dioxide in natural tanks and removing it from the atmosphere) to reduce your carbon footprint. Here are a few simple ways that you can help make the planet greener:
- Switch out light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs.
- Unplug electronics you are not using.
- Decrease your use of car air conditioning — your car will be more fuel efficient and release fewer emissions.
- Bottled water creates a lot of waste in production and trash. The majority of bottled water comes from a tap!
- Put your computer in sleep mode.
- Screen savers waste energy. Without a screen saver you save $50 on your electricity bill.
- Use a sweater instead of turning up the heat in your house.
- Air dry your clothes.
- Ride a bike or car pool — or use public transportation.
- Hang drapes on your windows. It will keep your house cooler in the heat and warmer in the winter!
- Bring your own reuseable bags for shopping.
- Recycle and compost food waste.
Learn more: Interested in the climate's relationship to the economy? Check out this great article!
Watch: Flood Children of Holdibari, the award winning film by Plan youth in Bangladesh.
Donate: Make a contribution to support child-centered Disaster Relief and Recovery programs where needed most around the world.
Join: Learn more about YUGA and how to create your own YUGA group! YUGA is a great way to meet new people and talk with others about issues affecting the world today. You and your friends are the future, and by being aware of world matters, you will help to make a better future.