Kaduna res­i­dents de­cry lack of por­ta­ble wa­ter Think­ing of the fu­ture as the world marks Earth Day

Daily Trust - - ENVIRONMENT - By Alex Abutu

Ev­ery year on April 22, over a bil­lion people in 200 coun­tries take ac­tion for Earth Day. From Niger to San Fran­cisco, Bei­jing to Brussels, Moscow to Mar­rakesh, people plant trees, clean up their com­mu­ni­ties, con­tact their elected of­fi­cials, and more—all on be­half of the en­vi­ron­ment.

Like Earth Days of the past, Earth Day 2014 fo­cused on the unique en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges of our time. As the world’s pop­u­la­tion mi­grates to cities, and as the bleak re­al­ity of cli­mate change be­comes in­creas­ingly clear, the need to cre­ate sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties is more im­por­tant than ever.

Earth Day 2014, ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­niz­ers, would seek to do just that through its global theme: Green Cities. With smart in­vest­ments in sus­tain­able tech­nol­ogy, for­ward-think­ing pub­lic pol­icy, and an ed­u­cated and ac­tive pub­lic, we can trans­form our cities and forge a sus­tain­able fu­ture. Noth­ing is more pow­er­ful than the col­lec­tive ac­tion of a bil­lion people.

The Green Cities Cam­paign

Earth Day Net­work launched the Green Cities cam­paign in 2013 to help cities around the world be­come more sus­tain­able and re­duce their car­bon foot­print. Fo­cused on three key el­e­ments – build­ings, en­ergy, and trans­porta­tion – the cam­paign aims to help cities ac­cel­er­ate their tran­si­tion to a cleaner, health­ier, and more eco­nom­i­cally vi­able fu­ture through im­prove­ments in ef­fi­ciency, in­vest­ments in re­new­able tech­nol­ogy, and reg­u­la­tion re­form.

En­ergy

Most of the world cur­rently re­lies on out­dated elec­tric gen­er­a­tion struc­tures that are ex­tremely in­ef­fi­cient and dirty. To help cities be­come more sus­tain­able, we need to re­design the cur­rent sys­tem, tran­si­tion to re­new­able en­ergy sources, and im­ple­ment 21st century so­lu­tions.

Green build­ings

Build­ings ac­count for nearly one third of all global green­house gas emis­sions. Through sim­ple ef­fi­ciency and de­sign im­prove­ments to build­ings we can re­duce those emis­sions dras­ti­cally. To re­alise that vi­sion, cities need to up­date or­di­nances, switch to per­for­mance based build­ing codes, and im­prove fi­nanc­ing op­tions.

Trans­porta­tion

Trans­porta­tion is the fastest grow­ing source of green­house gas emis­sions world­wide, three quar­ters of which comes di­rectly from road ve­hi­cles. To re­duce these emis­sions and the re­sult­ing smog, we need to im­prove stan­dards, in­crease pub­lic trans­porta­tion op­tions, in­vest in al­ter­na­tive trans­porta­tion, and im­prove city ‘walk­a­bil­ity and bike­abil­ity.’

Through an in­for­ma­tive web­site and a se­ries of in-depth tool­kits, the cam­paign will ed­u­cate the pub­lic about each el­e­ment of green cities and spur in­di­vid­u­als to take civic ac­tion by sign­ing pe­ti­tions, send­ing letters, and or­ga­niz­ing events.

In ad­di­tion, Earth Day Net­work will work with part­ners on the ground in strate­gi­cally placed cities and towns to or­ga­nize grass­roots ef­forts to im­prove lo­cal codes, or­di­nances, and poli­cies that will help cities be­come model green cities.

Span­ning Earth Day 2014 and 2015, the cam­paign will work with an in­ter­na­tional team of part­ners, in­clud­ing lo­cal or­gan­is­ers, non­prof­its, businesses, and gov­ern­ments to help in­crease pub­lic aware­ness, mo­bilise sup­port for ap­pro­pri­ate poli­cies, and gen­er­ate con­crete com­mit­ments for in­no­va­tive and repli­ca­ble ini­tia­tives.

Cli­mate change is real:

Ac­cord­ing to a new a re­port by the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC), cli­mate change is al­ready af­fect­ing people through­out the world.

The re­port said: “In re­cent decades, changes in cli­mate have caused im­pacts on nat­u­ral and hu­man sys­tems on all con­ti­nents and across the oceans.”

We have al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced many of the neg­a­tive ef­fects of cli­mate change such as dam­aged food crops, more ex­treme weather, melt­ing glaciers, the spread of dis­ease, and ris­ing sea lev­els that threaten low­land com­mu­ni­ties. The re­port also warns that any fu­ture in­crease of tem­per­a­ture could lead to “abrupt and ir­re­versible changes.”

The re­port is the sec­ond in a se­ries of three, the first of which was re­leased in Septem­ber 2013 and at­trib­uted con­clu­sively that hu­mans were the dom­i­nant cause of cli­mate change. This sec­ond re­port, how­ever, seeks to ad­dress the ef­fects of cli­mate change as a se­ries of risks that will ul­ti­mately in­crease ex­po­nen­tially as tem­per­a­tures warm.

The re­port found that the great­est risks of cli­mate change are those faced by people liv­ing in low-ly­ing re­gions, such as coastal ar­eas and is­lands, which are par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to storms, flood­ing, and sea-level rise. Un­for­tu­nately, it found that people liv­ing in ur­ban ar­eas are also at risk of in­land flood­ing and ex­treme heat waves that could po­ten­tially lead to other dis­as­ters stem­ming from the de­struc­tion of power plants and wa­ter treat­ment cen­ters. Food pro­duc­tion is also at risk due to flood­ing, drought, and chang­ing rain­fall pat­terns.

Al­though it may seem ob­vi­ous to some, the con­se­quences of cli­mate change will be felt dis­pro­por­tion­ately by the young and el­derly, and es­pe­cially by the poor. In fact, cli­mate change it­self is ex­pected to in­crease wealth dis­par­ity world­wide and slow down eco­nomic growth all to­gether.

The re­port does say, how­ever, that the con­se­quences of cli­mate change can be re­duced with am­bi­tious ef­forts by gov­ern­ments around the world to cut back green­house gas emis­sions.

The re­searchers be­hind the re­port hope that by re­fram­ing the is­sue as a se­ries of risks and po­ten­tial con­se­quences, gov­ern­ments will feel more pres­sure to act sooner, rather than later.

Facts to note about Earth Day:

* The first cel­e­bra­tion of Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, mak­ing 2014’s ob­ser­vance the 44th an­niver­sary of Earth Day.

* Earth Day was founded by U.S. Se­na­tor Gay­lord Nel­son from Wis­con­sin who wanted to re­spond to an oil spill off Santa Bar­bara, Cal­i­for­nia. Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton awarded Sen. Nel­son the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom in 1995 for his role as Earth Day founder.

* The first Earth Day got a lot of at­ten­tion when more than 20 mil­lion people par­tic­i­pated and by the end of 1970, Congress au­tho­rized the cre­ation of the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

* Al­though Earth Day orig­i­nated in the United States, it went global in 1990 with 140 coun­tries par­tic­i­pat­ing. In 2000, more than 180 coun­tries par­tic­i­pated.

* Chicago made a big splash on Earth Day 2007 with fes­tiv­i­ties at Lin­coln Park Zoo draw­ing more than 40,000 people, a sin­gle-day at­ten­dance record.

* In 2009, the United Na­tions re­named Earth Day and now calls it In­ter­na­tional Mother Earth Day. That name doesn’t ap­pear to be catch­ing in the U.S.

* Earth Day Net­work mem­bers host 10,000 Earth Day events around the world. The theme of the 2014 Earth Day is Green Cities and you can find a list­ing of events around the world here.

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