50th anniversary of Earth Day stresses climate change, health

Cooped up inside during the novel coronavirus quarantine? Go for a walk. As you amble outside your home, bear in mind the effort required to preserve the beauty around you, says a UF/IFAS Extension regional sustainability agent.

That message from Romona Madhosingh-Hector resonates, especially as we near April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. This year, Earth Day emphasizes climate change, which can affect our environment and, ultimately, our mental and physical health, says Ms. Madhosingh-Hector, a UF/IFAS Extension agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Southwest District.

“We can take a cue from the Earth Day theme and look after ourselves and our environment,” she said. “As we are confined mostly to our homes, many folks are going outdoors for the natural beauty and peaceful solitude,” Ms. Madhosingh-Hector said. “That highlights how important our natural resources are. Protection of natural resources connects to climate change. If we are not protecting our resources for the future, we risk losing these valuable places of retreat. Sustainability is all about resources for the present and future generations.

“Folks who are home due to COVID can still manage food waste, conserve energy, engage in civic action, build connections and live sustainably,” she said.

The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have made it the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary, according to the Earth Day website.

For Earth Day, Ms. Madhosingh-Hector urges everyone to use the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations as a blueprint to promote environmentally positive actions. “On the 50th anniversary, challenge yourself to become a bigger risk-taker for the environment — use your car less often, manage your eco-footprint and volunteer in your community,” she said.

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