Earth Day 2011

By Ghassan Karam

Forty one years ago Senator Gaylord Nelson organized the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 in New York City. At the time no one could have guessed that environmentalism and ecological concerns would have grown as to become one of humanity’s largest concerns. Rio plus twenty will galvanize early next year the attention of the world on the issue of Green Development and Sustainability. We sure have come a long way since. The rivers are not on fire any longer, smog alerts have become a memory in Los Angeles, London and other capitals, DDT is banned practically all over the world, global fertility is approaching the replacement rate, the CFC generated Ozone hole is on the mend, a lot of the worlds waterways are cleaner, life expectancy is longer, gender discrimination is less practiced and political democracy is much more widely spread. Yet we have replaced all of these improvements with arguably greater threats to ecological sustainability. Peak Oil, desertification, combined with fresh water stress, food scarcities and climate change pose a threat to our very civilization and environmental balance and diversity. Despite all of these very serious challenges we can, we must and we will marshal our collective effort to engineer a transition to a green sustainable and equitable future. A future conceived by and erected for a new world with new sensibilities guided by environmental harmony, natural rights and ecological egalitarianism. These challenges are global and do not recognize political boundaries. That is why it is so important for all of us to act responsibly and to carry our share of the burden if humanity is to find a way out of this very real challenge. No one hide behind the fact that their state is too small or too little. A universal problem demands a global solution where everyone is pulling together, even in Lebanon and the Arab world. Our future is just as much at risk as that of the bigger players.