The first Earth Day celebration, on 22 April 1970, is the landmark event that still stands today as the most influential solidarity protest in human history. This day of environmental recognition, proposed by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and activist Denis Hayes, set in motion the establishment of environmental protection laws in the United States and eventually, across the entire world. Since then, Earth Day is observed every year on the same day in an effort to continuously educate the public on various environmental issues as well as support worldwide initiatives focusing on ecological conservation and environmental sustainability.
This year marks the 51st Earth Day commemoration, revolving around the theme ‘Restore Our Earth’ and one good way to do this would be to address the increasingly critical issue of climate change. It goes without saying that climate change is the leading environmental concern of our time, but what exactly is climate change?
Essentially, climate change is the average rise in the Earth’s global surface temperature; a result of greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and extreme changes in climatic conditions. Though Earth is no stranger to climate change, the substantial amount of human development, progress, and evolution spanning across the 20th century has had an unprecedented detrimental impact on our planet. The principal factor causing this alarming state of environmental affairs is the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) for energy, transportation, and industrial processes.
Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane generated by these activities have increased by 11 billion metric tons over the past 20 years. As a result of this, rising global temperatures have also caused a rise in ocean surface temperatures as well as the rapid melting of arctic ice in countries such as Greenland, which has lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice every year since 1993 and Antarctica, which loses 148 billion tons of ice per year.
Did you know?
Malaysia is recognised as one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world today. Our rich biodiversity consisting of tropical rainforests, coral reefs, and mangrove forests — each home to countless species of plants, animals, and underwater creatures is threatened by climate change every day.
Though the current state of our environment is admittedly distressing, humanity is consistently making efforts to turn the situation around. Every day, countless countries and people from government & non-government organizations across the globe are taking measures to tackle climate change. Taylor’s College and Taylor’s Universityis no exception. As the top private university in Malaysia & Southeast Asia, Taylor’s has made a commitment to promote and implement actions that encourage environmental conservation and sustainability. From the management of the institution to the activities hosted by the clubs and societies on campus, here are some of the eco-friendly initiatives Taylor’s has taken to promote sustainability:
ENERGY CONSERVATION - Conventional lighting is replaced with energy-saving alternatives like Light Emitting Diode (LED) fixtures in all the university’s main areas, staircases, parking bays, classrooms, corridors, and offices.
RECYCLING – The Solid Waste Recycling Program initiative launched has enabled the campus to achieve a recycling rate of 90% with recycling containers for paper, metal, bottles, and cans, among other materials found all across campus.
MICROHOUSE – Taylor’s University partnered up with Me.reka Makerspace to build a double story microhouse that fits into two parking bays! The microhouse, completed in August 2018, features solar panels, motion sensors, and a water filter for the in-built rainwater harvesting system — which is also implemented in the washrooms and used for gardening purposes around campus.
These are just some of the actions an institution like Taylor’s is capable of undertaking to combat climate change. Nevertheless, our simple everyday actions are equally as important and impactful. Personally, I’ve tried to reduce wastage by purchasing only what I need, when I need it. Even with the smallest everyday contributions, we can all do our part to tackle climate change. Here’s how:
SAVE THE TREES – Plant a tree in your home garden or your local park. You could also opt to receive digital mail and utilise online or old textbooks to reduce the number of trees cut down for the making of paper.
FOLLOW THE 3R’s – REDUCE single use plastic items (metal straws for the win!), REUSE plastic containers and glass jars, and RECYCLE items like paper, steel cans, cardboard boxes, and plastic bottles. You could also upcycle common household items instead of throwing them away like the workshops organised by Taylor’s Me.reka Makerspace which assisted students to turn their worn out shoes into shoe planters for succulents and make bracelets out of used red packets!
Did you know? The colours of the recycling bins differ in each country. In Malaysia, the recycling bins are blue, brown, and orange. The blue bin is for paper and cardboard, the brown bin for glass, whereas the orange bin for plastic bottles, steel cans, and aluminum tins.
CONSERVE – Turn off the tap when not in use and flick the light switches off to save electricity. You can also carpool or even take the public transit to reduce the combustion of fossil fuels and the emissions of harmful gases into the atmosphere.
EDUCATE – The most valuable thing you can do is to educate yourself and others on the importance of protecting our environment. For instance, members of the Taylor’s Nature Club hosted a virtual workshop on the importance behind the 3R’s as well as debunked the myths surrounding it. If you need more ways to play your part, check this out.
The recent pandemic is a striking reminder of the fragile nature of our way of life on this planet. More importantly, it has shown us that when a universal threat presents itself, we are all vulnerable to its effects, no matter who we are, what we do, or where in the world we come from. However, the consequences of climate change are much grimmer as it presents humanity with an imminent, unparalleled threat to our very existence.
Therefore, it’s crucial that we’re mindful of the fact that the environmental challenges we face today will not come to pass on its own. So, this Earth Day, let us unite in taking effective measures and initiatives to sustain, preserve, and conserve our resources, ecosystems, and our beloved planet. Together, we’re more than capable of inciting a positive change to ensure our Earth endures, thrives, and prospers for generations to come.
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