Speech on the World Environment Day
Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze
President of Federation of World Peace and Love
Jun. 5, 2020, the World Environment Day
Today is June 5th, World Environment Day. The United Nations urges global citizens to grow increasingly aware of the importance of environmental protection and make changes to become environmentally friendly in all aspects of their lives. 2020 is a year of actions for biodiversity. According to research, the loss of biodiversity and the degeneration of our ecosystems involve the issues of poverty, hunger, health, and sustainable consumption and production. They have an impact on our water, climate, oceans, and land. They also affect the attainment of 80% of the Sustainable Development Goals. Frequent man-made and natural disasters and conflicts remind us that the world is in jeopardy, and we need to take immediate actions to ensure coexistence between people and between humans and nature and achieve balanced development so that we can build a sustainable future for humanity.
Since the 20th century, humans have gradually turned their attention to the issue of environmental protection and become aware that our environment not only provides resources for human development, but more importantly, it is a biosphere. The quality of our environment has a direct impact on the existence of all humanity and other living things. The challenges we face are not limited to global warming and climate change as many scientists and experts have issued warnings and declared a climate emergency.
The negative effects of industrial development have impacted human lives, and the alarm for the Earth has been sounded. For example, deforestation has destroyed the habitats of many living things and caused an imbalance in the ecosystems. High temperatures and overly dry soils have led to wildfires, accelerating the destruction of our ecosystems. In addition, the novel coronavirus, which has spread across the globe lately, has caused economic recession, social instability, panic, and over a hundred thousand deaths. Various contagious diseases attributed to the ecosystem destruction have wreaked havoc across the planet in recent years, and the diseases spread even faster because of frequent transportation caused by globalization.
Now the whole world has taken various precautions to stop the spread of the virus, including isolation. This might cause inconveniences for many people but give positive influence on the environment. We have seen suspension of factory operations and flight reductions, which have significantly lowered CO2 emissions. People can see distant mountains because of improved air quality in areas previously suffering from serious air pollution. People are forced to stay at home, minimizing noise pollution. The number of tourists around the world is decreasing, giving our ecosystems a break and an opportunity to rejuvenate itself as oceans and rivers have turned much cleaner and clearer and fish have started to appear in canals.
From the perspective of public health, we need to face the pain and harm brought forth by the disease and work together to improve humanity’s holistic health--physically, mentally, and spiritually. From the perspective of environmental science, through this pandemic, we need to understand how to maintain equilibrium between human activities and environmental health. When we let go of excessive desires and avoid unnecessary demands on natural resources, the Earth can get a break, and this outbreak also enables us to contemplate over questions like: What messages and experiences do we get from this pandemic? How should we coexist and thrive with nature?
Incorporating environmental protection into human development is an ongoing endeavor. This pandemic reminds humans to reflect on our actions and plan for the future. The function of the heart is boundless. Our thoughts shape our current and future world. Conscience is essential for our internal environment, and unity is crucial for our external environment. With conscience, we can work together, help one another, jointly fight the virus, and enhance global citizens' wellbeing.
As this year's World Environment Day coincides with the raging COVID-19 outbreak, it becomes even more evident that it is imperative for humans to take conscience-driven actions. When our hearts have realized something profound, we won’t focus our attention only on the immediate benefits. Conscience will guide us to tell right from wrong and make the right decisions. With conscience, we will put public interests before our own, and we will humbly move forward, honoring Mother Nature, which nurtures all humanity. With conscience, we will become wiser and strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection, which are intricately related and mutually affecting each other. With conscience, we will be able to learn from good examples and make the right decisions.
Let’s treat our environment and all living things with kindness and promote the awakening of conscience in global citizens. Let’s inspire everyone to change the world with conscience. Let’s consolidate people’s kind intentions to stimulate changes, allowing positive energy to spread across the planet so that the world will become stable again. Let’s protect ourselves and help others to conquer the pandemic and settle conflicts around the world as we foster world peace, social stability, and environmental sustainability with love and conscience!