On World Environment Day 2019, let us make a pledge to save the ground we walk on, the air we breathe, the trees that give us life and the animals that make it possible for the world to live and thrive.

On June 5th 2019, the world celebrates World Environment Day. As it does every year and has done for over four decades. The aim of this Day is to raise awareness of the environment and specific environmental issues. This year, World Environment Day is being hosted by China, with the theme of “Air Pollution”. World Environment Day 2019 will appeal to governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together and explore the possibilities that lie in using renewable energy and green technologies – to improve air quality in cities and regions across the world.

Air pollution is an issue that is overwhelming us around the globe – we just need to talk to people in Beijing or New Delhi, to realise the dire consequences posed by air pollution. The fact is, that while we can’t stop breathing, we can, and should, do something about the quality of air that we, our children (and future generations), will have to breathe.

Approximately seven million people worldwide die prematurely each year as a result  of air pollution, with about four million occurring in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • 92 per cent of people worldwide do not breathe clean air
  • It costs the global economy $5 trillion every year in welfare costs
  • Ground-level ozone pollution is expected to cut staple crop yields by 26 per cent by 2030

Words from the wise

While much can be written on this subject by this writer, or any other writer, nothing is as impactful or as relevant as quotes from the great and good ,on the subject of saving the blue planet. Let us look at what some of the leading lights from the worlds of conservation, politics, art, literature and entertainment have said about this crisis that threatens to end this beautiful planet the nature created for us.

Bittu Sahgal,  founder and editor of nature and wildlife conservation magazine Sanctuary Asia, has this to say: “Children have the greatest legitimacy to ask for a better future. Today, my arrogant, myopic and avaricious generation is doing the same thing as the East India Company — colonising India. Their brand of colonisation was geographical. Ours is intergenerational, which means that my generation is colonising the resources that belong to the future generations. Our India — including the economists, politicians and corporate heads — has forgotten almost all the lessons that our ancestors lived by and taught us. Only the young ones actually ‘get it’, and they can even understand complicated concepts about climate change and human rights. My firm belief is that we need an adult education campaign. A sort of ‘Each One Teach One’ programme, where it’s the children who are conscripted to explain simple ecological truths to the adults in their lives.”

Sahgal goes on to say that, “In general, nature is very forgiving. But if we cross the line, it can punish us, and we are approaching that point now. My advice to people who want to help protect nature has always been, ‘Be who you are and do what you do best’. If you’re a poet, write poetry. If you’re a journalist, write reports. If you’re a celebrity, use your credibility and reach. If you’re a politician, use your influence. If you’re a businessperson, use your organisation skills. When many of us do a little bit, a lot gets done.”

Here are some more pithy and prescient quotes from household names we are all familiar with…

“The Earth is what we all have in common.” —Wendell Berry

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead

“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.” —Leo Tolstoy

“The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” — Lady Bird Johnson

“The Earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”
—John Paul II

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall

“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on.”—Henry David Thoreau

“The nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

“People accuse us of being spoilsports all the time, but they are turning a blind eye to nature… I predict that the next generation of politics will depend on clean air, clean water and survival as by then we will have exhausted everything nature has given us.” – Bittu Sahgal

Established in 1972, Wold Environment Day (WED) was first held in 1974, proving that concerns about the environment go back several decades, at least. 143 countries take part and the day focuses on environmental concerns – ranging from pollution to global warming, sustainable food production to protection of wildlife. Participants include NGOs, governments, communities, individuals, charities, organizations and celebrities. Together they aim to raise awareness of environmental issues. As we all should. Not just on World Environment Day but everyday of our lives.


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