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Every day is Mother Earth Day

23 April 2013 - 02:47 By Crispian Olver
Crispian Olver
Crispian Olver

In 2009 the General Assembly of the UNestablished, by consensus, April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

Speaking immediately after the resolution was passed, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, the country which brought the Earth Day resolution, said: "Sixty years after adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mother Earth is now, finally, having her rights recognised."

For those of us fortunate enough to have grown up with holidays in the countryside and trips to nature reserves, this image of nature as something to be cherished and conserved is a familiar one.

Protecting the wilderness responds to deep-seated yearnings about maintaining a child-like state of grace.

The relationship between human beings and nature is often one of conflict. With more than seven billion people on the planet, thanks in a large part to the march of technological progress, humanity is fundamentally altering the face of the planet. Some scientists have even suggested we are entering a new geological epoch, and proposed naming it the anthropocene to reflect the impact that people are having on natural systems such as climate.

The spaces of relatively pristine wilderness that still exist on the planet do so largely as a result of conscious far-sighted decisions by people to conserve nature.

With nature under threat from development, and animals' natural migration routes broken by borders and private fences, careful management of national parks is required to retain functional ecological systems.

Most of the world's people don't have the luxury of holidays in nature reserves. Either they're battling to survive in the concrete jungle, or they're forced to eke out a living through agriculture.

At the same time, there seems to be a growing awareness of what is at risk if we ignore the consequences of our demands on mother earth, and this is what Earth Day is about.

Nature is not separate from us. Like other animals, we need fresh water to drink and unpolluted air to breathe. We are as dependent on the earth as the mole, as reliant on the seasons as the sparrow. The real challenge is not to conserve the earth, but to inhabit it.

We can't abandon our cities and farms and return to nature because we already inhabit nature. Earth Day is about taking responsibility for our home, this planet.