Nepalis have been active in commemorating various international UN days wherever they live, signifying their universal bond. Connecting to the environment has been a special focus of many of theses activities as each one tries to teach one, particularly the younger generation on the limited resources that we live with as we maximize our choices for sustainable, environmentally conscious development in Nepal and in our individual Nepali communities in the US and North America .
Since 1970, the United States has been commemorating Earth Day every year on April 22, the movement being the brain child of Senator Gaylord Nelson, who had long thought about finding a way out "to put the environment into the political 'limelight' once and for all." America actually celebrated two Earth Days, one held in March on the equinox, and the other on April 22, which is considered the real Earth Day. In fact, Earth Day has now spread from the U.S. to almost every other country of the world and is taken as a time to reflect on the environment that surrounds us and what we can do to show our care and love for Mother Earth. There are many innovative ways to celebrate Earth Day, but it starts within the family.
In 2007, President George W. Bush helped commemorate Earth Day across America by calling from the White House for good stewardship of land and oceans. President Bush stated," As we observe Earth Day, we celebrate the rich blessings of our Nation's natural resources, and we renew our commitment to protecting our environment so we leave our children and grandchildren a flourishing land." President Bush encouraged American families to be more involved in cooperative conservation, innovation, and new technologies. He recollected America´s strong efforts at environmental conservation, his administration´s support of clean energy and trying to curb harmful air pollutant levels by more than ten percent since 2001.
The U.S. has got a strong environmental record and the Environmental Protection Agency has been a catalyst in promoting strong environmental safety standards. As President Bush mentioned, "Millions more Americans are drinking cleaner, safer water. We have removed hazardous fuels from more than 19 million acres of federal land. We have created, restored, or protected more than 2.5 million acres of wetlands, and we have conserved almost 200 million of acres of habitat through Farm Bill conservation programs. And we are taking positive steps to confront the important challenge of climate change. Our work is not done. We also have a responsibility to pass on to future generations our commitment to the environment."
What can you do as a Nepali living in the US? Many activities that support Earth Day start at the backyard. It can involve planting trees to curb greenhouse gases and lessening the carbon dioxide levels, securing the soil and preventing erosion on hill slopes besides promoting local diversity. You can promote nature arts and crafts, by building a bird house or animal shelter, erecting bird feeders or water eco systems, and by providing shade for the animals to rest. Parents can teach their kids about the environment, do a joint project, be out in the wilderness for a day or visit the zoo to identify four or five different kinds of plants, animals and fish species, and try understanding their natural habitat and eco systems, how human beings endanger their lives, and on the other hand, how they can protect the species. Parents can teach their kids how to reduce, recycle and reuse materials, how to dispose them off carefully, and to isolate toxic material from garden waste to promote organic farming. Local vegetable and farm producers can organize local markets and teach consumers on the value of buying local, so that less transportation, packaging and fuel is used.
As Americans and global citizens share the Earth Day concept to rejuvenate their environmental thinking, it is pertinent to remind ourselves on President George W. Bush´s statement on September 28, 2007 on the correct use of U.S. alternate energy security and promoting renewable and lighter energy resource use. President Bush had mentioned, "Energy security and climate change are two of the great challenges of our time. The United States takes these challenges seriously. The world's response will help shape the future of the global economy and the condition of our environment for future generations. We represent the world's major economies, we are major users of energy, and we have the resources and knowledge base to develop clean energy technologies." America´s guiding principle in commemorating Earth Day must also be to lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and it must be done in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people.
Earth Day is also a good way to combat global warming which is already disrupting millions of lives daily in the forms of destructive weather patterns and loss of habitat. I am sure many Nepalis have read about the melting glaciers of the Himalayas, which if true, might result in mass water shortages in the Himalayas in a hundred and fifty years from now. Recently various international experts particularly from the US held a major workshop in Kathmandu, where they have affirmed their support to help the Nepal Government to monitor the Himalayan glaciers and help maintain the environment around the region. That is an important part of helping Nepalis realize the importance of Earth Day as well.
There is a saying that the future is not somewhere we are going. It is something we are creating. Every day we do things that make some futures more probable and others less likely, these are all shaped by our human act and thinking. The Power of Environmentally Safe Thinking and to Act as One is required amongst us all on Earth Day, grasping it as an opportunity to remind the global society on the need to manage our Nepali resources more viably e.g. the Himalayan forests, the river water that flows closest to our village, town or city, the national parks, the tilled or barren land, energy whether it is produced using hydro electricity, kerosene or diesel; and, natural resources such as the role of forest wood, leaves and coal. Earth Day is also a day to remember the problems that arise from the unbalanced management of resources; conflicts of interest or conflicts over resources, resource management-induced disasters and how communities can respond to them promptly to retain the eco-system´s balance. There is a lot the Nepali communities across the US can do to help preserve the environment in the US and back in Nepal, remembering the Power of One.
(Surya B. Prasai is an independent global strategic communications, media, and international development resource consultant who writes frequently for this and other global media)
(Note from the Nepal Horizons Editorial Team: The views and opinion expressed in this article are that of the author and not of NHC. We request individuals with interest in Nepal to submit their views on contemporary Nepalese issues to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures of contributors or images that relate to submissions are welcome)