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If you believe in OnlyOneEarth, treat it well

Grass growing in the shape of planet Earth, inside a transparent piggy bank, symbolising the need to invest in the protection of the environment and to reconnect with nature. [Getty Images]

The clarion call is clear this June 4: We have to act and live responsibly, individually and collectively, if we are to continue to get what we enjoy today.

We cannot disband this earth, sell it (to who?) or go anywhere else. We are stuck in and with it. It is home, at least for now, before we can be “transformed (in the twinkling of an eye) and taken to the land of milk and honey, where we shall walk on streets of gold and sing like angels”.

The desperation is real, and no, the champions are not exaggerating. The intertwined triple planetary crisis; pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss, largely caused by human activities, are hurting humans through diseases, deaths, displacement, conflict and stagnated development.

Globally, there are efforts to increase adaptation, resilience and mitigation to the climate crisis, pollution and biodiversity loss. But preparedness, or being armed for the stresses without doing much to prevent them from happening, is unsustainable.

If you live in flood prone areas, for instance, you may build a stone-walled house knowing the chances of your mud-walled one being swept away. You may also cope, usually getting back on your feet post-disaster fast.

But preventing the flooding would be more rewarding. The money you spend to rebuild can grow you in other ways. You can stop contributing to the problem, raise the alarm if someone or firm behaves badly, seek justice and put authorities to task to not only help you to adapt or cope, but also prevent the crisis.

Profit making by individuals and firms must not ignore the fact that we will still need earth tomorrow. We have children, and they are reproducing. Extraction must not be at the expense of tomorrow’s generation. Equally, if you pollute a river, or dispose of waste carelessly, ask yourself what would happen if everyone did that.

Even with the profits, should it flood or get too dry, there will be no food or fuel to buy. The little available may be too expensive, maybe not for you, but for others that may end up dying because you had to be rich. Recent fuel and milk crises made known to us how sad it can be to have money but not find what you really need to buy.

Mitigation of the triple planetary crisis is everyone’s responsibility. Adaptation alone will not help. Several species crucial to the ecosystem are being endangered or extinct courtesy of human activity. Again, how sustainable is this trend! Truth is, we cannot remain on earth without the other living things; but they can.

Even as we point fingers at developed nations and firms powering their development with fossil fuel, there are at least three fingers pointing back at us.

How do we use water, for instance? Even if you pay for it, use it in a way that you can still find it tomorrow. How do you treat natural resources such as rivers, forests, the air around you? If you can’t plant trees, just stop felling them. Create a sustainable environment for all, human and non-human.

Tomorrow, under the theme #Only One Earth, we celebrate World Environment Day. The clarion call is clear. Be good.