World Environment Day 2019 & Why It Is Important

World environment day takes place annually on 5th June. It is a day designated to encourage worldwide awareness to protect our environment, established in 1974 by the United Nations. Fundamentally it is a day for people to make changes towards the environment. It could be anything from organising a corporate event or an action you wish to pursue as an individual. Each world environment day is awarded a theme that is deemed important. For example, this year the theme is air pollution.

Air Pollution – 2019 Theme

Air pollution is a growing concern both in the UK and globally. This year’s world environment day host China has particularly poor air quality. As of 2018 statistics, air pollution was killing 1 million people and costing the Chinese economy 267 Billion Yuan per year (South China Morning Post, CUHK, 2018).

Image of bellowing smoke portraying air pollution, contaminants

Poor air quality is a global health epidemic. It can cause health conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, and in some cases can be deadly. Air pollutant damage to our bodies occurs by penetrating into our respiratory and circulatory systems (World Health Organisation, 2019). According to the WHO, 90% of children globally breathe polluted air. As well as damaging humans and our health; air pollution has detrimental effects on animals and crops, and can destroy natural environments.

Change and Progress

Greta Thunberg is a 16 year old Swedish school girl that has become globally recognised as an environmental activist. She decided that her, and her entire generation, deserve a chance to live and enjoy the earth. The narrative started with her standing outside her school in protest, holding a wooden sign reading ‘School Strike for Climate’ and initially she was alone in her protest. But she persisted, and it has now transpired that this teenager is holding politicians accountable for not acting fast or strong enough against climate change. She is idolised for her determination, positive action and straight-talking attitude.

Image of posters from an environmental protest - reading 'change politics not the climate'

Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse (Extinction Rebellion, 2019). The pressure group organises local groups, protests, events, and resources for those who want to join their cause. They have gained high profile media attention after spreading their symbol during protests, and super-gluing themselves to the gates of Buckingham Palace whilst reading a letter to the Queen.

Why Is This Important?

As of 1st May 2019, the UK Parliament declared climate change and the environment an official emergency. The declaration of an emergency was one of the key demands put to the government by environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion, after a series of protests in April 2019 (BBC News, 2019). This means we need to make changes immediately in order to save the Earth. Events like world environment day can bring righteous issues to the forefront of everyone’s mind. Also, these events inspire change and protest – and often, this can create the pressure that is needed to influence government and legislation. We must keep pushing.

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Michelle Whitney, BA (Hons)

RRC Digital Marketing Assistant, Blogger & Writer