Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day - Help Reduce the Stress On Earth!

Photo courtesy Astronomy Picture of the Day

The following suggestions come from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Become better informed and active. Find sources of sound environmental and natural resource information and access them regularly. Attend local public meetings and become active in your community. Understand your local environmental challenges and accomplishments. Protect your local open spaces. Learn about local watershed initiatives. Volunteer.

Participate in a local environmental education or Earth Day experience. Visit a new or nearby nature center, science center, park, cooperative extension office, museum or conservation district office. Ask questions.

Get your hands dirty! Participate in a river cleanup, pick up litter or plant a flower garden.

Enjoy nature! Sit and rest in the woods or along a stream. Take a hike, go biking, try camping, have a picnic, go fishing, look for hawks, rent a canoe, investigate a cave, look for fossils, fly a kite, take photographs, paint some scenery - enjoy the outdoors!

Protect water quality! Clean up after pets. Test wells annually for bacteria and nutrients. Don't dump used oil, paint, coolants or other chemicals into the ground, stormdrains or garage drains. Participate in stream bank and wetlands restoration projects and local watershed management planning.

Use products that produce less waste and pollution. Substitute water-based products whenever possible when buying paints and household cleaners. Or, switch from chemical-type cleaners to natural products like soap and water. Use fertilizers and pesticides properly and reduce use by implementing biological and mechanical controls. Read and follow instructions and precautions for all such products and dispose of them properly (and not into storm drains or the ground). Buy products in bulk or with minimal packaging materials.

Recycle! Purchase products that contain recycled-content materials as often as possible.

Save energy! Turn off unneeded lights and appliances. Replace standard light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescents to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Buy energy efficient household appliances and yard tools. Consider energy efficient construction and building design when building, buying, or adding on to a home or office.

Use your car less and take good care of it. Keep the car tuned and leak-free, and get it inspected regularly. Keep tires properly inflated and dispose of used motor oil and cooling fluids at designated recycling centers. Try using mass transit, carpooling, walking or riding a bike as often as possible. When shopping for a new car, look for the most fuel-efficient and investigate models that accommodate use of other fuels besides gasoline.

Conserve water! Install flow restrictors on all faucets and use low-flow shower devices. Do not let the water run wastefully when washing anything. Water the lawn in the early morning or late afternoon. Run washing machines and dish washers only when full. Repair leaky pipes, faucets and toilets.


I would like to add some things too, not just for today, but Everyday! Remember, every day is Earth Day.

Avoid using pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. They are burning the soil and harming wildlife populations as well as causing water pollution.

Avoid the use of plastics so the containers don't end up in landfills.

Avoid using products whose manufacturing process pollutes the air and water.

Have a meal that is comprised of locally-grown, in-season foods.

Most of all, stop polluting. Earth can restore health to our environment, but only if we stop putting so many challenges in the way!

Happy Earth Day!


Update: Here is a news story from this morning's Yahoo! front page. It seems a perfect message for Earth Day!

Biodiversity loss will lead to sick world: experts

by Martin Abbugao Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:08 AM ET

SINGAPORE (AFP) - The world risks wiping out a new generation of antibiotics and cures for diseases if it fails to reverse the extinction of thousands of plant and animal species, experts warned Wednesday.

Biodiversity loss has reached alarming levels, and disappearing with it are the secrets to finding treatments for pain, infections and a wide array of ailments such as cancer, they said, citing the findings of a coming book.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said more than 16,000 known species are threatened with extinction, but the number could be more.

"We must do something about what is happening to biodiversity," he said at a news conference on the sidelines of the UN-backed Business for the Environment conference.

"Societies depend on nature for treating diseases. Health systems over human history have their foundation on animal and plant products that are used for treatment."

Technological revolution in the 19th and 20th centuries took the focus on finding cures away from nature as pharmaceutical companies relied on technical components to make medicines, he said.

These companies are increasingly turning back to nature as they run out of chemical combinations, he said.

But the world is "losing the intellectual patents of nature before we even have the chance to understand or unravel them," Steiner said.

"This is the tragedy of not understanding biodiversity," he said, adding it would be a "big fallacy" to think that biodiversity is not linked to the phenomenon of climate change.

The book, previewed at the conference, cited the example of the southern gastric brooding frog discovered in the rainforests of Australia in the 1980s. It has since become extinct.

Research on those frogs could have led to new insights into preventing and treating human peptic ulcers which affect 25 million people in the United States alone, according to the authors of the book, "Sustaining Life".

Valuable medical secrets which the frogs held "are now gone forever," the book's key authors, Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, were quoted as saying in a press statement.

The book contains a chapter describing how seven threatened groups of organisms -- amphibians, bears, cone snails, sharks, non-human primates, gymnosperms and horseshoe crabs -- can be valuable in finding cures for diseases.

The Panamanian poison frog, for example, can make pumiliotoxins that may lead to medicines for heart disease, while alkaloids from the Ecuadorian poison frog could be a source for painkillers, it says.

Cone snails produce a compound which has been shown in clinical trials to be a pain reliever for advanced cancer and AIDS patients, according to the book.

David Suzuki, a Canadian scientist and environmental activist, blamed environmental degradation on the world's heavy focus on economic progress.

"We are creating an illusion that everything is fine, and we are getting richer and richer. But we're doing it at the expense of our children and grandchildren... all in the name of economic growth and progress," he said in a keynote address via video conference.

One solution will be to "take our eyes off the economy," he suggested.

"The real bottom line is clean air, clean water, clean soil that gives us our food, clean energy that comes from the sun, and biodiversity. These are ultimately the most important needs that we have to fight for at all cost."

Hundreds of international business executives, government officials, environmentalists and others have gathered for conference.

It was organised by the UNEP and the UN's Global Compact, an initiative which brings companies together with the UN and other agencies to support environmental and social principles.


Geraldine said...

We are observing Earth Day by having another Earth Hour, starting in about an hour. Small steps x millions of people= huge results for the better.

Happy EArth Day, M!

Michelle said...

That's great! :-)