Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Editorial
Outdoors, into nature

Jun 06, 2017

CONNECTING PEOPLE to Nature, the theme for World Environment Day 2017, implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share.

This year’s theme invites people to think about how they are part of nature and how intimately they depend on it. It challenges people to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship.

In recent decades, scientific advances as well as growing environmental problems such as global warming are helping us to understand the countless ways in which natural systems support our own prosperity and well-being.

For example, the world’s oceans, forests and soils act as vast stores for greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane; farmers and fisher-folk harness nature on land and under water to provide us with food; scientists develop medicines using genetic material drawn from the millions of species that make up Earth’s astounding biological diversity.

Billions of rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate full well their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. They are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation.

Nature’s gifts are often hard to value in monetary terms. Like clean air, they are often taken for granted, at least until they become scarce. However, economists are developing ways to measure the multi-trillion-dollar worth of many so-called ‘ecosystem services’, from insects pollinating fruit trees in the orchards of California to the leisure, health and spiritual benefits of a hike up a Himalayan valley.

In the age of asphalt and smartphones and among the distractions of modern life, connections with nature can be fleeting. But with everyone’s help, World Environment Day can make clearer than ever that human being need harmony between humanity and nature so that both are able to thrive.

(From the UN Environment Programme write-up for World Environment Day 2017, June 5)



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