The commemoration of Earth Day turns 39 this week.
Nearly four decades of setting aside a special day for everyone to join in celebrating the wonders of our planet. It is a time to rejoice in the magnificent array of animal and plant life that graces the earth.
Yet, best of all, we can safely say that this year we have more reason to be joyful: There are more people than ever before who are taking action to preserve and protect our planet.
Among our diverse populations, there is a renewed understanding that people need nature in order to thrive, that human well-being is directly dependent on the resources of our planet.
LEARN MORE: CI is partnering with businesses around the world to preserve the planet. Find out about who we are working with.
For businesses, green is the new black – as in black ink on the bottom line – as more and more enterprises realize that it makes economic sense to adopt conservation-sense practices in daily operations.
For governments, there is new appreciation for a cost-effective, immediate strategy for combating climate change – by stopping the razing and burning of forests, a source of about 16 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. One study puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 and $5 trillion.
Think of it as a barter system: we take care of nature and nature takes care of us. Nature’s benefits include the basic building blocks of life. Ecosystems, especially the tropical rainforests that harbor vast biological riches, provide services that clean our air and water, and provide food, medicines, energy and raw materials, according to the Milennium Ecosystem Assessment, a five year research effort that culminated in a 2005 report.
These ecosystems regenerate soils and pollinate crops, regulate the climate, control floods, offer recreational opportunities and yes, even spiritual renewal. In some parts of the world, they are cultural touchstones. The assessment valued ecosystem services at $30 trillion – more than the combined domestic product of all nations. Degrading them causes economic harm, as well as human suffering.
IN PHOTOS: Kaijende Highlands Expedition, Papua New Guinea
Every day of every week on this site, Conservation International strives to bring you compelling stories and illuminating images that demonstrate how people depend on nature. Our work is a foundation for Earth Day, as we unveil a new species, applaud a new protected area and revel in a new seascape.
On these pages this week you will see a segment from a gorgeous and moving new film, EARTH, from Disneynature; a report about the “Green Wall” program designed to reforest the area around Jakarta, Indonesia; a story marking the anniversary of Charles Darwin in the Galapagos, and a compilation of stunning images from Madagascar, a living laboratory of biodiversity, a place unique on the planet.
Earth Day is a time to reflect, reenergize and renew our commitment to treat our planet gently, to marvel at its wonders, be inspired by its resiliency and to take action to overcome the challenges that threaten its viability. There are many reasons for concern but they should only increase our determination that conservation and common sense are the right course, the only course to ensure that Earth Day will eventually become Every Day.
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