TODAY IS EARTH DAY!
For 43 years on April 22, more than one billion people take part in Earth Day. Across the globe, individuals, communities, organizations, and governments acknowledge the amazing planet we call home and take action to protect it.
As an informed global traveler, I am acutely aware of the ever increasing perils and criminally dangerous activities that inpact our planet. Here is a short list off the top of my head:
- Geo Engineering (chemtrails)
- Ocean Acidification and depletion of fishing stocks
- Species eradication (according to BBC News we may be permanently losing 150 species per day. Even conservative estimates place the number at 40-50)
- Seeing ourselves as separate from our planet
Yes, the news is bleak and many stories related to climate change go unreported in mainstream media. However, there are positive developments as well deserving of our attention and support. Entrepeneurs are creating green businesses. There is a resurgeance in renewable energy research.
Visiting and snorkeling the north shore of Bali and the Gili Islands of Indonesia last year I was heartened by what I saw. Both of these areas had massive corral die offs over the last three decades. In just a few short years with the passionate dedication of local residents these reefs are coming back to life. They are again repopulated by beautiful fish and corral of every color. They are now drawing adventure tourists whose money helps to support these poor populations. Another success story is the Galapagos Islands whose unique species were almost driven to extinction are on the rebound. Geotourism is funding many of these great efforts.
You may ask yourself, “What can I, a single person, possibly do to have a positive effect on the planet”? In fact there are many things that can be easily done. Here are a few suggestions. If you don’t like them, find your own:
- Support green businesses, buy organic when possible
- Take a walk in the forest, sit quietly on a beach, contemplate the vastness of a desert
- Don’t litter and pick up some trash even if it is not yours
- Spend a few minutes a day radiating a genuine feeling of appreciation and gratitude for your planet. In peer reviewed scientific studies at the HeartMath® Institute it has been found that even a few minutes spent experiencing a state of appreciation has measurable positive effects on a persons immune system, lowers blood pressure, and evens out heart rhythms. Such practices have the additional benefit of making one feel more connected to our planet.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
While researching this post, I was drawn to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. To date, UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations has identified and designated 962 sites. Of these, 745 are cultural properties, 188 are natural properties and and a very few such as Tongariro National Park have the unique distinction of dual designation.
A World Heritage Site is a location defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation as having ‘outstanding universal value’. A World Heritage Site has special restrictions to protect it from damage and development. In reviewing this list, I was surprised to see how many of these sites I have visited…53 to date. Many of those I have blogged about. All have been genuinely appreciated by me for their richness of natural beauty, biodiversity, unique cultural traditions and the relationship between humans and the environment during a particular stage of human history.
I am more inspired than ever to visit more of these sites, perhaps all of them one day, and share my experiences with you. I am in no hurry and will do so in the most sustainable manner possible (eg. minimizing air travel). I have compiled a new page on this blog listing all 962 UNESCO World Heritage Sites by country. I am in the process of linking those I have written about to the actual blog postings.
Concurrently, I am writing up a story of one of the most amazing and challenging hikes of my life. Transpiring within another UNESCO site, it is a photo essay of my trek to the summit of Yosemite National Parks Half Dome. That post should go live in just a few days.
I hope that I have inspired you to get out in nature today or for that matter any day. Remember, any and every effort, no matter how small, to contribute to the preservation of our planet is a worthy one.
HAPPY EARTH DAY EVERYBODY!