If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a civilization to look
after its species. Of course, the species, all thirty to one hundred
million of them, are no more ours than the wind is. But we humans
control the destiny of life on Earth and if we hold to our present course
of action, which includes high consumption of natural resources
leading to habitat destruction and pollution, not to mention climate
change, then by mid-century we’re going to have a much poorer planet: historic numbers of species will become extinct and we humans will have lost a significant part of our heritage and
quality of life.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that we can each do something about it.
But I’m not an activist, you say. Fine, neither am I. At least so
However, you and I both lead active lives and each day we have
opportunities to reduce our footprint on the environment. That’s
why last month my colleague, Alex, and I, together with a
dedicated team of students, organized the
first-ever Ecolympics. We were hoping to get at least one
Our motto was “Competing for Team Earth.”
We finally signed up more than two hundred people. Most of
the participants were from
several people compete from other universities and from
from the participants was, “I enjoyed the challenge.” I’d
love to say that each of our actions saved a species, but it
doesn’t work that way. We have, however, engaged in the
struggle – against our own habits and attitudes and against
We are ignorant about the long term consequences of our
present consumption of natural resources though our situation
seems like if in the story about the flood, Noah began
burning the floorboards of the ark to keep warm at night.
There has to be an alternative.
Check out the UNEP’s site for World Environment
Day on June 5, and see that people around the world have made
hundreds of suggestions for things to do to reduce our impact
on the environment and to protect species. The motto for World
Environment Day is “Many species. One Planet. One Future.”
You can also review our Ecolympics events and partake
in one of the events that you missed on your own. Or, if
you’re looking for a real green-medal challenge, here is
something you can do on World Environment Day:
organize your own Ecolympics for your work place or
school. Use our events as a guide. All you need
are a few green prizes as incentives, or a friendly bet
always makes a good challenge.
We need more Ecolympics and more Ecolympians. Next
year, we’re going to run the Ecolympics again, probably
for two weeks instead of one. We’re hoping for at least
double the number of participants: four hundred. But if
we really want to make a difference and get serious about
saving species, then we need four hundred million participants.
We need an Ecolympics that runs year round with everybody
participating every day.
Think about what it will mean for us all to be
Ecolympics champions! Clean air, clean waterways
healthy wetlands, thriving forests and diverse ecosystems.
This is why we need to Compete for Team Earth. This is
our future. The challenge is ours to accept.