Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Of The Events, Media & The Outcome

On the following day of 22th May, the International Biodiversity Day 2012, I looked for the news concerning the event in a national daily, and I was disappointed by a very brief news item running hardly 6 cm, single column: Just the briefest possible coverage of an important topic 'biodiversity' in relation to the oceanic theme of 'Marine Biodiversity'. This followed a half page commercial advertisement on Ridley Turtles; the advertisement, I believe, must have cost several thousands to the campaign, and earned the newspaper a handsome revenue!

The events like these are very important because they concern us all, and the response, if properly projected, can be expected to reach far and wide, and fulfil the objective. Environment concerns us all, and aberrations in it can cause severe consequences we are noticing globally: the climate change, extreme temperatures, aberrant rains, floods, Tsunamis. Man made influences have touched the mountainous heights, oceanic depths, tectonic plates' width.

The most notorious human endeavor as well as a pastime is to dig deeper and deeper for coal, oil, minerals, in name of development when better and cleaner alternatives do exist. The WWF report on cleaner sources of energy remains an unbelievable fact for the most of Earth's digging moles; the report provides an opportunity to explore renewable resources of energy to save environment.

The year's theme on marine biodiversity was as gigantic as the marine ecosystem (s). So it is something that we should strive to discuss beyond the datelines of calendar. The oceans host 32 of 34 known phyla on earth and contain somewhere between 0.5-10 million marine species.

In a project called 'Census of Marine Life' about 2700 scientists from over 80 countries carried out 540 expeditions around the world to map the species found in the seas.The exploration spreading over a decade (2000-2010) explored the seawater surface, the deepest and darkest depths, tropical seas, ice strewn oceans in Arctic and Antarctic regions.

The Census has added 1200 species to known lifeforms, and about 5000 specimens are under evaluation. The estimates of known species (identified, documented but not classified) has increased following the Census to 250,000. The census suggests at least a million species. But other estimates put the life in oceans to several million species. There are multiple marine habitats and there is no reason if estimates are only bottom line, and real figures may be beyond our estimation at least for now.

There are several interesting habitats in the marine environments: mangrove forests, coral reefs, sea grass beds, hydrothermal vents, sea mounts, soft sediments, estuaries in coastal areas. Each habitat has its own flora and fauna. These habitats are quite sensitive environments. Currently the overall effects to marine environment are known to be very severe from the land based pollution, eutrophication, overfishing, introduction of exotic species, climate changes. World's 20% coral reefs are already destroyed.

All that concerns environment, directly or indirectly, concerns us all. Those who do not heed or show sensitivity to it must follow the rule of the game. (You smoke fine, but I am affected by passive smoking. So no smoking please. This message should serve the 31st May 'World No-Tobacco Day' objective as well). Events aim that the outreach is maximally reached, making people aware and educate them about the cause.

The imbalance in news and the commercial advertisement relating to the biodiversity day struck me hard. I asked to myself, if the newspaper had an ethical and moral binding to cover the news concerning biological diversity in a little bigger size, at least to balance the paid advertisement on Ridley turtle! Though I know the answer was in negative. Newsprint is made from pulp derived from trees, imagine no trees, no newsprint, no newspaper. Sadly, for making one ton of newsprint needs a number of resources totalling 98 tons. Thanks to recycling (of mixed papers and used newsprint) to make one ton newsprint, it saves an equivalent to 12 trees!

There is a relative low understanding of the importance of biodiversity with respect to the goods and services it provides . The educated, the policy makers versus the illiterates, the rural folks and the traditional societies, the later group of people are more aware of the relative interdependence in daily life and cultural setting. The traditional societies are critically engaged in their protection and sustainable use. This is precisely the reason, why the civilized man has exploited and over exploited biodiversity resources but have not used, until recently, the goods and services rendered by biodiversity resources, in the development planning.

The global community has now realized that if biodiversity has to be protected and conserved, their services have to be accounted for. The forthcoming Eleventh Conference of the Parties (CoP-11) to the Convention of Biodiversity (CBD), scheduled to be held at Hyderabad (India) between 1-19 October, 2012, will be assessing the progress made in implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, Strategic Plan, and Strategy for Resource Mobilization. CoP-11 key issues for discussion are biodiversity and livelihood, integrating value of biodiversity good and services in national planning, coastal and marine biodiversity, operationalization of Nagoya Protocol.

Issues of Environment Degradation, Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss, Rise in Greenhouse gases , Deforestation are interlinked. There is a cause and effect relationship among these. One gives rise to the other. The mess made, is the result of misuse and overexploitation fuelled by human greed for development, but at what cost? Man-created mess is now the human society’s biggest dilemma, as we are threatened by climate change. It is not surprising that the problem being multi directional the issues are being attended to from multiple directions, but as the intended objective is restoration of the pristine beauty and overall balance of the nature reflected in its diverse ecosystems, in the geographies and climate, all solutions to issues must converge to preserve the Earth.

The 2012 Earth Summit agenda is Green economy, International Framework for Sustainable Development. There are 7 critical issues and sustainable development goals. The event accompanies several side activities. On 16th June the world’s leading chefs and various thought leaders will explore ways of protecting biodiversity, while preserving and developing flavours and culinary methods for a new type of cuisine. The agenda will cover biodiversity, agriculture, sustainable production and consumption, resource efficiency. Other events are: A Czec Republic event, ‘ Measuring Green Economy ; Insights from Beyond GDP indicators’.

The World Environment Day-12 theme  ‘Green Economy: Does it Involve You?’ reflects global concern, that our focus ought to be on greener approach to development. The United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), which runs the World Environment Day (WED), defines green economy as one that “results in improved human well being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scaricities”. In other words green economy is low carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive. The green economy envisages that the growth in income and employment is derived from public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The Earth Day, the Earth Hour are other popular interventions. These events add to the awareness of issues related to the planet’s health  and are acts of green campaigns. The first  Earth Day was observed on 22 April, 1970, the day the modern environmental movement was borne. The ‘Earth hour ‘ has successfully united people in spreading awareness. People demonstrate solidarity for sustainable planet by switching  “light off” action as a symbol of support. On the last Earth Hour (30th March, 2012; 8.30.PM) more than 6950 cities and towns in 152 countries and territories worldwide switched off their lights making it the largest climate campaign ever. It had started in 2007 as an initiative of WWF-Australia aiming at Sidney siders to show their support to climate change.

UN Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020) allows concerted effort to focus and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. The objective here is to attain the objectives of the CBD, as contained in seven thematic programmes, cross-cutting issues, and the awareness and education of the stakeholders and target groups. The Conference of Parties (CoP) has established seven thematic programmes which cover most of the Earth's biomes, namely: Agricultural Biodiversity, Dry and Sub-tropical Land Biological Diversity, Forest Biodiversity, Inland Waters Biodiversity,  Inland Biodiversity, Marine and Coastal Biodiversity, Mountain Biodiversity.

Media in any form plays important role in dealing with environment based programmes. Informed and educated people can in effect change the governments and structures. Conventional media, which is driven by profit motives, can substitute an important news for a paid advertisement. Here the social media on net can be effectively used by thought leaders to replace the conventional media, where ever the society's stakes are higher. Bloggers can definitely play their role to place their opinion that can take issues forward in the right direction.

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