Protect Our Environment, Prevent Pandemics – ‘Nature Is Sending Us A Clear Message’

News from the United Nations on the urgent state of the environment and those of us need a health environment for survival

Posted June 22nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –

The wetlands and woodlands, and habitat areas that keep great waterways like the Niagara River healthy for generations to come are irreplaceable and priceless. Time must be up for those politicians and developers who put a price tag on these vital natural gems.

If you are beginning to notice the drum beat of posts we are featuring on NAL these days on the the relationship between human health and the health of our environment, and how significant a role a healthy environment can play in beating away pandemics, there is a method to my obsession with this topic.

My hope is that as many of us as possible, including our political representatives, in Niagara and this region of the world, take these  reports from global experts to heart and work for a post-pandemic world that says ‘NO’ to billion-dollar abominations like the low-density urban sprawl planned for places like the wetland-rich Thundering Waters Forest – a significant natural area in our bi-national Niagara River watershed – in Niagara Falls.

At one of the last public meetings this year where people felt they could pack a room safely, these two young people joined more than 200 Niagara residents in letting Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati and his council, and a China-backed development corporation know that protecting nature means more to them than urban sprawl in an area that is a haven for trees and provincially significant wetlands. This development plan should be cast aside as a relic of past times.

The kind of 19th and 20th Century thinking that drives these unsustainable, highly costly projects – thinking that has we have to balance away or sacrifice ever more of out rich natural places – has always represented a false choice, pitched by the narrow interests, that has no place in a 21st Century world facing a deadly pandemic and potentially catastrophic climate change.

It is time to stand up and say ‘NO’ – THE JIG IS UP – to those among us who continue to traffic in this destructive thinking.

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Now here is the news from the United Nations on what nature is telling us about healthy environments and pandemics –

On this year’s World Environment Day, celebrated this past June 5th, the United Nations drawing links between the health of the planet, and human health, and highlighting the importance of protecting biodiversity, the system that supports life.

“At least 70 per cent of emerging infectious diseases” such aCOVID-19, are crossing from the wild, to people, and “transformative actions are urgently required to protect environment and human rights”. This was the message from David Boyd, the independent UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, ahead of this year’s Day.

Mr. Boyd added that countries should take urgent action to protect the environment and stop climate disruption, biodiversity loss, toxic pollution and diseases that jump from animals to humans.

UN chief António Guterres said in his message that “nature is sending us a clear message. We are harming the natural world, to our own detriment.”

(To listen to and watch the UN chief delivering his message, click on the screen immediately below.)

He noted that habitat degradation and biodiversity loss were accelerating, “climate disruption is getting worse…To care for humanity, we must care for nature.”

UN chief on World Environment Day 2020, by wellsm@un.org

Time for natureSince World Environment Day was launched in 1974, it has grown to become the UN’s biggest annual event, advocating for environmental action and raising worldwide awareness of the need to increase protection for the planet’s long-term survival.

The 2020 edition, which has the tagline “Time for Nature”, is being hosted by Colombia, which is organizing several events, streamed live, which can be accessed here, or on social media. The theme is biodiversity protection, at a time when one million animal and plant species are believed to be on the brink of extinction.

This year’s Day inevitably references the global COVID-19 health crisis, noting that, with the population doubling over the past 50 years, and the global economy growing fourfold over the same period, the delicate balance of nature has been disrupted, creating ideal conditions for pathogens, such as COVID-19, to spread.

As countries open up, and governments approve stimulus packages to support job creation, poverty reduction, development and economic growth, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), is urging them to “build back better”.

This involves capturing opportunities for green investment — such as renewable energy, smart housing, green public procurement, and public transport — guided by the principles and standards of sustainable production and consumption. 

A failure to do so, warns UNEP, and an attempted return to business as usual, risks seeing inequalities rising even further, and a worsening of the degradation of the planet, at a time when one million animal and plant species are on the brink of extinction.

For more United Nations news on climate change in the age of COVID-19, click on – Climate Change

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

About United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres – António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017.

Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, in refugee camps and in war zones, the Secretary-General is determined to make human dignity the core of his work, and to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation.

For more on the UN Secretary-General and his work, click – https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/biography

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

 “A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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