Today is World Environment Day, a day where we should think about ecology and all things green.
The theme of WED this year is the green economy which is defined as :
one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.
It’s good to see a lot of cities in the world greening up. Amsterdam is considered to be the most bike-friendly city in the world. Brazil has launched the Green Passport initiative in an attempt to reduce the impact of tourism on the environment; while Barcelona is a leader in Europe in the provision of solar energy.
Sydney tries to be green, but where she falls over in my opinion is in the public transport sector. It is a nightmare to get around in Sydney if you don’t have a car. And even if you do have a car the roads are so congested and so badly laid out that it takes ages to get from point A to point B.
Many people I speak to outline the stress they feel traveling to work in the mornings because the roads are so bad. They also outline how much easier it would be if they could work from home (very green activity as you are not traveling anywhere) and with the technology that exists in the workplace today there really are no excuses for employers not to allow that at least one or two days a week. Unless you’re supremely inflexible, that is.
Welcome to Sydney. City of congested roads, stressed out commuters and inflexible employers. With the people who have the power to change things (state and local governments) unable to agree on anything except that they need more time off to deal with the stress of it taking two hours to get to work in the morning.
It’s not easy not being green.
All this talk of roads groaning with traffic is somewhat depressing, so I have to turn to the thing in my immediate environment that always cheers me. The majestic, humble tree.
There was a slogan in the 1960s that said – BIKE FOR A BETTER CITY - but I believe that – PLANT TREES FOR A BETTER CITY – is more apt in our modern society.
Think of the habitats planting trees creates. Think of the trees sucking all that carbon out of the air. Think of the ways trees can lift your spirits. Think of the shade on a hot summer’s day.
A street without trees is desolate, grey. A street with trees is vibrant, full of birdsong and the scent of blossoms and leaves.
On World Environment Day I would like to honour the tree. It may sound like putting a small bandaid on a large, gaping wound but I feel that planting trees, fighting to maintain the existence of established trees and rallying to provide the community with more green, open space is a good way to start greening your local economy.
So today why don’t you plant a tree? Sit under a tree? Write a poem about a tree? Hug a tree? But above all, realise the importance of trees in our modern world, in our built-up cities and towns full of concrete, steel and glass.
No town can fail of beauty, though its walks were gutters and its houses hovels, if venerable trees make magnificent colonnades along its streets.
~Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs, 1887