It’s time to wake up and to take notice. Our actions have repercussions.

26 September has been declared World Environmental Health Day with the focus on “Biodiversity”. This day has been set aside annually to bring global awareness to humanity’s responsibility to take care of the environment. It has been celebrated since 1974 but is specifically significant this year.

Nature is sending us a message, and we need to listen for the sake of our future. COVID-19 shows just how the destruction of biodiversity can harm the system that supports human life. About three-quarters of all emerging infectious diseases in humans are passed on to people from animals. And what most people don’t understand is that sustaining biodiversity on our planet protects us against pandemics.

Scientists estimate that there are at least 8 million species of plants and animals living on earth today, including humans – all living together in ecosystems. Every ecosystem depends on one another like a jigsaw puzzle. And for thousands of years, people have coexisted with ecosystems. Still, as human populations have grown, we have begun to creep on, and in some cases overtake ecosystems causing their biodiversity and balance to suffer.

As humans, we have a responsibility to coexist harmoniously with other species to ensure a healthy planet. Simple as that.

Skilled environmental health practitioners have gone above and beyond in the past targeting the prevention of disease and creating supportive health environments. However, how every one of us lives today will determine what the future will look like.

We have a few useful tips on how to make an impactful difference as an individual every day:

  • Buy a reusable water bottle. Did you know that more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day? Bonus points for telling your friends to do the same!
  • Give beef the boot. Good news, meat lovers: You don’t have to go full vegetarian to shrink your carbon footprint substantially. But cutting beef from your diet can have a considerable impact. Whenever a cow passes gas, it emits atmosphere-destroying methane, a greenhouse gas, into the air.
  • Buy organic food to keep your body and the environment free of toxic pesticides. Plant a tree to restore the balance between natural habitats and communities.
  • Shave one minute of your shower time. A long shower is a significant carbon-emission culprit. 
  • Conserve water outdoors by only watering your lawn in the early morning or late at night. Be sure to plant drought-resistant plants.
  • Teleconference instead of travelling. If you fly five times per year, those trips are likely to account for 75% of your carbon footprint.
  • Swap four wheels for two whenever possible. Bike or walk your way to a healthier you and a healthier environment.
  • Join a local environmental group. Form a “green team” to conserve resources and promote sustainability.
  • Unplug your coffee machine, microwave and computer when not in use. They consume “vampire energy” in their dormant states. Most of the energy used to power homes is made of fossil fuels, and little leaks add up to severe environmental damage.

Maybe this pandemic will be a turning point when we stop seeing protecting the environment and protecting ourselves as separate narratives. 

Source: gov.za, ifeh.org, globalissues.org, sdg.iisd.org, unenvironment.org, afro.who.int, pactworld.org, fnp.com, earthday.org, rd.com, blog.academicyear.org

 

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.