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WORLD EARTH DAY

BY AISHWARYA SRIDHAR FROM NEW PANVEL, INDIA

From educating local villages to fundraising for tiger conservation, implementing tree-planting initiatives, Aishwarya is fighting to create a better planet for everyone. A powerful voice for conservation, Aishwarya inspires us this Earth Day.

22 April 2020

Senator Gaylord Nelson of the United States founded Earth Day and it was first celebrated on April 22, 1970. Since that day, Earth Day has become single most widely celebrated international environmental event across the world. The day celebrates our planet’s unique biodiversity and ability to support life in the entire universe.  

As a kid I always dreamt of magic wands and flying carpets but today I really wish I had the magic lamp of Aladdin which when rubbed could restore Mother Earth to what she was billions of years ago when she was born like a jewel in the universe… 

Breathtaking, beautiful, and full of life 

With green valleys and skies of blue 

Providing a home to all of you 

But, sadly today she is full of trash and debris 

Dying slowly degree by degree 

“Breath-taking, beautiful, and full of life

With green valleys and skies of blue

Providing a home to all of you

But, sadly today she is full of trash and debris

Dying slowly degree by degree.”

Today, we are facing a climate emergency. Our planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century. The ice sheets are melting with Greenland losing an average of 286 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016. The Global sea level has risen about 8 inches in the last century and wetlands are disappearing 3 times faster than our forests.

I was 11, when I first heard about climate change. It was during the science class and our teacher spoke about global warming and mass extinction. A few days later I came across a news clipping of a tiger having been poached in an Indian forest. It happened to be the same tiger I had seen a few weeks ago on a holiday. That’s when I realised the role ‘we’ humans played in tilting the ecological balance.

“[That’s when] I realised the role ‘we’ humans played in tilting the ecological balance.”

Climate change is in large part, a result of our actions. I decided to write about this and penned a poem which got later got published.  Since then, I have penned over 150 poems, written articles for leading newspapers and spear-headed Earth Day celebrations and other nature-based events and activities for children in over 40 schools impacting over 2,00,000 students.

When I read that the greenhouse gases added by humans to the Earth’s atmosphere increased by 37 percent in the last decade, I began to also include reduce-reuse and recycle as an important aspect during workshops and activities that I conduct for schools and local tribal communities. It’s very important that children and the youth of today know about the climate emergency the planet is facing.

“It’s very important that children and the youth of today know about the climate emergency the planet is facing.”

Over the last few years, I have also been working with the local fishermen and the government to protect the vanishing wetlands around Mumbai and its suburbs (the city I live in). Since 2010, over 1200 hectares of Mumbai’s wetlands have been reclaimed, leading to floods during heavy rainfall. The drastic disappearance of this vital eco-system inspired me to present and direct a documentary ‘’Panje-The Last Wetland’’ which speaks about the last remaining wetland of Uran which is a coastal village near Mumbai. The documentary started a conversation and urged the Bombay High Court to protect the wetlands. A small step in a huge journey.

” I have also been working with the local fishermen and the government to protect the vanishing wetlands around Mumbai and its suburbs.”

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The time has come for us to call for global action to tackle our climate crisis and I sincerely hope that by the time we celebrate the 100 year anniversary, we will be looking at a healthier and more sustainable planet.

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