We have just celebrated World Environment Day on June 5th. A day observed each year to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect the natural world and our planet Earth.
The United Nations General Assembly established World Environment Day in 1972 and created the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which is now the United Nations’ principal agency for environmental action.
The purpose of having a special World Environment Day is to raise global awareness of environmental issues, to encourage political attention and public action, and hope that individuals pledge personal commitment to environmental preservation.
Each year since 1973 there has been a theme and this year it is “Go Wild For Life – Zero tolerance for the illegal wildlife trade.”
Like many Australians, I think immediately of elephants and the ivory trade and consider wildlife trade happens somewhere remote from here. However, a little research and you soon discover we certainly need to spread the message of zero tolerance within Australia too.
“For ordinary people who might think that buying a little ivory trinket or a reptile skin handbag isn’t a big deal, we want to get the word out that it is,”
IFAW Oceania director Isabel McCrea 2014.
In Australia, it is troubling to know we have a thriving illegal trade in endangered birds and reptiles.
Native green tree pythons (Morelia viridis) can sell for $2000-10,000 on the black market. (Credit: Wikimedia)
A Major Mitchell cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri), highly sought after on the black market, fetching up to $15,000. It is on the CITES Appendix II list. (Credit: Getty Images)
Think Globally, Act Locally
This is a great mantra for anyone who cares about the environment, particularly when you consider the evidence of global warming.
How disastrous, not just for Australia but the world, that our current Federal Government (seeking to be re-elected) has sacked some of Australia’s and the world’s, most respected climate science researchers as it restructures the CSIRO.
This week, the eastern coast of Australia has been battered by storms with some areas experiencing catastrophic events never recorded in living memory or since records began over a century ago. Although these storms can’t be specifically assigned to climate change there is a high possibility with warmer seas and rising sea levels that future storms will be more destructive and perhaps more frequent. Climate scientists to monitor the cause and effect are needed.
Still too many people make excuses or don’t believe climate change is a reality or threat. Why is there no marching in the streets to demand our political leaders and decision makers do something now – like reinstating valuable expert scientists?
Images of NSW, Queensland, and Tasmania storm blasted fill our TV screens and newspaper columns.
Flash Floods Not Fiction (A Haibun)
City streets awash
El Nino’s temper unleashed
Climate Change ignored
Flooding horrendous. Cars submerged, people drowned and missing. A man fishing from his balcony excites social media when the lake thirty metres from his home visits and stays. Water, a new resident in apartments, shops, and public buildings.
All life disrupted
Reptiles infest many buildings
As rivers burst banks
Doctors warn of waterborne disease and the risk of bites from creatures otherwise unseen. Snakes and Funnel Web spiders flushed inside, pets usually restrained, swept outside.
Winds howl, puff and huff
Roofs wrenched from buildings and sheds
Squalls strength abnormal
These storms unknown in most people’s lifetime. Sea swells surging over jetties and boats with tsunami intent. Was it like this a century ago? Record keeping not an exact science.
Angry seas pummel
Rocks and roots shaken loose
The clifftops shudder
Countryside recovering from summer bushfires, firestorms, and drought. Weary fields must now cope with too much water.
Fragile soil stolen
Farmers’ tears match the deluge
Nature’s balance gone
Doomsayers shake their heads. Sacked scientists despair at self-serving politicians. The population seek soothing. Resignation followed by resilient acceptance and adaptation.
Life here is finite
The Earth will return to dust
World Environment Day aims to:
- Give a human face to environmental issues.
- Empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development.
- Promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues.
- Advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.
Here are 10 things you can do to reduce global warming but writers can also write short stories, poetry, novels and essays reminding people of the fragility of planet Earth.
My friend and fellow writer Sue Parritt did just that and I went to her book launch a fortnight ago in Mornington, a coastal town where even a small rise in sea level could have a devastating effect.
Sue workshopped her first novel with Mordialloc Writers’ Group and has an essay in our last anthology, Kingston My City. Sue retired from her work as a librarian and moved to Mornington several years ago to be a full-time writer.
Sannah And The Pilgrim, and this new novel, Pia And the Skyman published by Odyssey Books are parts one and two of a trilogy set in an Australia of the future grappling with global warming and the changes to islands in the Pacific region that produced a refugee crisis and ‘Apartheid Australia’ with people living in ‘the Brown Zone’ being virtual slaves.
The year is 2401, the location a farming settlement on the northwest coast of North island, Aotearoa. Pia has lived at Kauri Haven since fleeing imprisonment in Australia for seditious activities, through the intervention of Kaire, the man she calls the Skyman.
Sue writes speculative fiction but told me at the launch there is now a subgenre of Sci-fi called Cli-fi because of climate change and there will be more novels focusing on scenarios in a world affected by global warming.
Sannah and Pia’s stories are powerful and Sue’s easy-to-read style draws the reader into the narrative. The attention to detail and engaging prose delivers a punch as you consider the issues involved. It may be called speculative fiction but the dynamics of the story reveals a lot of truth about the human condition and mankind in general.
I appreciate that when creative writers write about moral and ethical issues and attempt to make a difference it is difficult not ‘to preach’. However, many readers (including myself) enjoy narrative when the dilemmas faced by the characters involve serious social justice issues.
Novels can have a profound effect and often resonate with the reader better than a factual account. Creative writing can engage emotions and intelligence in powerful transformative ways.
Congratulations to Sue for successfully tackling several of the most important issues of our time in the two completed parts of her trilogy and I’ll look forward to another gripping tale when the final novel comes out in October.
In the meantime, I hope more people will be become actively involved to care for the environment before it is too late!