“This planet is our home. Do you only clean your home once a year?” countered American environmentalist Lawrence Mignogna, when asked why Earth Day should be observed daily.
As a nature lover, it’s a natural progression for Lawrence, 37, to involve himself in creating awareness on global warming and climate change.
He said, “I have always been concerned about the environment but travelling around the world, I’ve experienced the worst air pollution in Beijing, Cairo and Delhi and saw entire fields littered with plastic bags in Morocco, Haiti and South Africa. In addition, new studies would constantly emerge showing how our accelerated use of fossil fuels and the carbon these fuels emit causes our planet to warm at an unprecedented rate, causing extreme weather-related catastrophes like droughts and floods.
“The event that triggered my anger to say “Enough is enough!” was the 2010 BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s been five years and the full impact of it is still not fully understood.
“2015 is a pivotal year for humanity. We are dangerously approaching a tipping point, a point where we may no longer be able to fix the damage we’ve already done if our temperatures rise above 2 degrees Celsius. Experts predict we are on track to add 4 degrees by the end of the century, merely 85 years away.
“If this situation spirals out of control, I would hate to have my son ask me one day, “Dad, if you knew this was happening, why didn’t you do something about it?”
“So, I got involved with The Climate Reality Project and participated in a leadership-training summit in Delhi, India. The Climate Reality Project (www.climaterealityproject.org) is an organisation founded by Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States of America. Their goal is to help people understand the issues and causes of global warming so that they demand actions from their government and seek out ways to live more sustainably within their communities.
“The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been working with all nations to commit to reductions in carbon emissions. The final agreement is to be signed in Paris in December. This year’s focus for The Climate Reality Project is to get people to join together, demanding strong commitments from their governments to cut carbon emissions.
“As part of the project, it’s now my responsibility to educate people and drive them to take action. We conduct presentations at schools, businesses and community organisations. We also write to leaders and newspapers, encouraging others to reach out to their government leaders.”
Recently, Lawrence presented a talk at Tenby Schools Ipoh, to more than one hundred and forty 15 to 18-year-olds, where the students learned about the science behind global warming. They also had a dose of reality as images and videos of extreme weather wreaking havoc were shown. The talk also focused on solutions people are employing, one of which is to switch to renewable sources of energy.
He said, “Renewable energies such as solar and wind power are the fastest growing industries in the world. Malaysia is the third largest maker of photovoltaic solar panels but it is strange that Malaysians are not making more use of them!”
So, what can the ordinary person do to help preserve Mother Nature? According to Lawrence, the most important action is to talk about it with friends and family.
He added, “The next best thing is to recycle and reuse. Landfills contribute to global warming by emitting methane gas. Therefore, cultivate the habit of using reusable bags and tumblers. Malaysians are addicted to plastic and is No. 8 in the world responsible for plastic waste that ends up in our oceans. One study found that Malaysia emits 940,000 tons of plastic waste annually, which translates to 31kg per person in the country. This makes Malaysia No. 2 in the world on a per-capita basis behind Sri Lanka. A collective effort WILL make a difference.
“Also, while Brazil and Indonesia are the world’s top countries responsible for deforestation in total land area, Malaysia has the No. 1 rate of deforestation. From 2000-2012, Malaysia cut down 14.4% of forests to support palm oil production and development. Rainforests don’t just support biodiversity and animal species but also hold fresh water on the land.
“As a direct impact of deforestation, southern Brazil is suffering from severe drought and São Paulo residents are under strict water rationing, with some areas only receiving 2 days of water a week. Alarming, as Brazil was known to have 1/8th of the world’s fresh water supply. Malaysia should take this as a warning considering that Malaysia has been known to have abundant water resources. Yet last year, Klang Valley’s reservoirs reached all-time lows, forcing the government to implement water rationing.
“If we do not take action now, then when?”
Note: An edited version of this article [Save Mother Nature Before It’s Too Late] was published on 30th April, 2015, in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.
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