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Guterres: Mother Earth Is in Trouble and Action Is Needed


This aerial photograph shows around 250,000 lanterns lit up as part of Earth Day celebrations at the Wat Dhammakaya Buddhist temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, April 22, 2022.

Environmentally, the planet was on a downward slide well before the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution designating April 22 in 2009 as International Mother Earth Day. The aim of this day is to celebrate the wonders of Mother Earth.

The day also is meant to shed light on the issues threatening the health of the world’s ecosystems to ensure their survivability.

Unfortunately, says U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, humans have been poor custodians of our fragile planet, which is facing a triple planetary crisis.

“Climate disruption. Nature and biodiversity loss. Pollution and waste. The triple crisis threatening the well-being and survival of millions of people around the world. The building blocks of happy, healthy lives—clean water, fresh air, a stable and predictable climate—are in disarray, putting the Sustainable Development Goals in Jeopardy.”

Ecosystems support all life on Earth. A healthy ecosystem depends on a healthy planet. Yet, scientists warn the planet is losing 4.7 million hectares of forests every year. They estimate around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.

And, the warming of the planet, they say, could lead to a climate disaster, rendering the planet uninhabitable.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during interview at U.N. headquarters, Jan. 20, 2022, in New York.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during interview at U.N. headquarters, Jan. 20, 2022, in New York.

Despite the dire outlook, Guterres says not all is lost. He says there is still
hope of saving Earth if nations act together to tackle the problems that are endangering the well-being of the planet.

He notes much has been accomplished since the global environmental movement started 50 years ago at a conference in Stockholm, Sweden. He says nations have
negotiated agreements which have, among others, succeeded in shrinking the ozone hole.

They have expanded protections for wildlife and ecosystems, and have ended the use of leaded fuel, thus preventing millions of premature deaths.

“But we need to do much more. And much faster. Especially to avert climate catastrophe. We must limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. And we are far off track…At the same time we must invest rapidly in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable who have contributed least to the crisis.”

In June, Sweden will host a high-level U.N. meeting to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first U.N. conference on the human environment. Guterres says the gathering of world leaders will be a great moment to address the triple planetary emergency.

He says we only have one Mother Earth so everyone must do everything to protect her.

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