World Environment Day 2017
Evie Dickinson, a volunteer for Salt of the Earth, offers her thoughts on why protecting the environment is so important, and how Salt of the Earth's work in India is working towards this.
“When I was in primary school, for years, I couldn’t quite grasp climate change or the impact it was having on our planet, but then I heard that polar bears had got smaller, and April had become the nicest month of the year, so I started to realise something was up. Now, and within the last few years, I’ve completely realised why everyone kept talking about climate change and that my focus on people in development was almost redundant without considering the environment – it’s true that poverty and environmental issues are completely interrelated.
Those living below the poverty line, like the people Salt of The Earth support, are the most undefended and most affected by environmental pollution and climate change. Global warming will not only increase food prices and rates of malnutrition, but it could also mean an increase in disease outbreak. The World Bank claim a small rise in temperatures could increase the number of people at risk of malaria by up to 5 percent. Diarrhoea would be more prevalent, and increased water scarcity would have an effect on water quality and hygiene.
In short, up to 122 million more people worldwide could be living in extreme poverty by 2030 as a result of climate change. This is why it’s so crucial for us to all recognise the link between poverty and environmental degradation. Everyone consumes water, food, and natural resources to stay alive, but poverty often causes people to put more pressure on the environment, for example through deforestation, improper human waste disposal, overuse of fragile land etc. But then, the worst consequences of the above and environmental deterioration, whether they be economical, social, or related to mental or physical wellbeing, are experienced by the poorest people.
SOTE’s work with the rural poor in Tamil Nadu has a huge emphasis on the environment. Last year, SOTE delivered a tree planting project to help with environmental preservation in Tamil Nadu. SOTE believe that trees are so important and can provide food, fuel, shelter and fodder and are a vital part of our work. In 2016, SOTE distributed 16,850 fruit and 61,475 forest trees to marginal farmers, Women’s Self Help Groups (WSHGs) and schools.
This year SOTE have partnered with CRUSADE to deliver more tree planting work. This project will focus on growing fruit trees such as mango, guava, lemon and coconut seedlings but also on distributing vegetable and herb seeds to members of CRUSADE’s Self-Help Groups. SOTE hope to plant over 123,000 fruit and timber trees and distribute over 4000 packets of herbs and vegetables to people who are living on the poverty line. This support is vital as it will not only provide an additional income but also food security for the future.
These projects in Tamil Nadu are not only generating income and improving health status and food security for beneficiaries but they are also helping to preserve the environment. For all the reasons stated above, this is of absolute importance. By preserving the environment, we are reducing the effects of climate change and global warming. By reducing the effects of climate change and global warming, we are also reducing malnutrition, food insecurity and disease outbreak.
The 13th Sustainable Development Goal is ‘Climate Action’ and this is one we can all join in on. Without much effort, there are some things you can do to help reduce the devastating effects of climate change and global warming and thus in turn protect and improve the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.
If you’ve already done your recycling today, good on you, and why not spend the next ten minutes browsing through SOTE’s ethical gift shop. On World Environment Day, why not buy someone a ‘smart’ Greenway Cooking Stove – an environmentally friendly present that will truly benefit a family in Tamil Nadu. We all live on this planet together and it’s our collective responsibility to protect our precious environment, so please help us with our work if you are able to”