In the universe are billions of galaxies,
In our galaxy are billions of planets,
But there is Only One Earth.

The above truism is from the UN Environment Program’s website for the 2022 World Environment Day campaign. Today, June 5th, is the day.

World Environment Day 2022 is being hosted by Sweden, appropriately the home of Greta Thunberg, the world’s most prominent climate change activist. The campaign slogan is “Only One Earth” and the day focuses on “Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature.” A host of events for the occasion are listed on the website.

The website is brimming with optimism. I wish I was, but realism keeps setting in. Global warming continues apace along with more and fiercer storms, wildfires and floods. Carbon dioxide levels are at the highest in human history. We continue to exploit the planet’s resources beyond its capacity to replenish them. Wildlife continues to be decimated to the point scientists are suggesting we are experiencing the Sixth Great Extinction of life on Earth, this one caused by us. And we await a cascade of catastrophes including the death of the world’s reefs and the exhaustion of its fisheries. Not much “Happy World Environment Day” in all this.

But I suppose taking one day a year out of 365 to be optimistic isn’t entirely unrealistic. Perhaps the world’s people will become sufficiently concerned to push their leaders into at least enough action to prevent global civilization from crashing. There’s little sign of it, certainly not from where I sit, in the most polluting province in one of the most per-capita polluting countries in the world.

But who knows. The future is unpredictable, full of surprises.

Perhaps humanity will come up with a really big one and follow this suggestion from the UN website: “We have #OnlyOneEarth. Let’s take care of it.” And on that note of starry-eyed optimism, I conclude.

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