How should we understand the environmental care? First, we need to change the way we relate to nature.
The biologist and president of the Mexican Network of Environmental Journalists, Fabian Carvallo, warns that a environmental awareness in the Mexican population to achieve this care for the environment.
Caring for the environment and environmental awareness
Carvallo affirms that we have not learned to coexist with other species that –even– are found in Danger of extinctionWe have not succeeded in stopping the deforestation of sites that should be natural reserves.
The expert assures that this education must be based on scientific evidence, to inspire young people from personal experience.
For this it is necessary that they go out into the field and verify the environmental services that ecosystems provide to humans such as climate regulation, flood control, control of diseases caused by pests, clean water and raw materials, among others.
“Nature is not only a spiritual food that allows us to disconnect when we go on vacation but also thanks to her we exist”.
Although the pandemic forced millions of people to stay at home, which meant the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, the use of face masks, latex gloves and disposable packaging to deliver food to homes has increased.
That is why it is important to analyze what we consume and why.
Edgard mason, from the Institute of Ecology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), explains the term greenwashing, a marketing strategy of certain companies in which the discourse of their product is changed to make it look more friendly to the planet without making positive changes. .
“Citizens have to be more critical and investigate if they really are ‘green’.”
An example is the reusable grocery bags that are more difficult to produce and much more polluting than plastic bags (whose sale was banned in Mexico City along with forks, spoons, plates and balloons, single-use utensils).
“We need to hold about 150 uses to be worth the environmental expense,” he explains.
Our environmental footprint and our ecological footprint, indicators of change
“We use many more resources than the planet can produce,” says the science communicator, Marjory gonzalez, and adds that since May 10, 2013 we have lived with carbon dioxide concentrations above 400 parts per million, “a figure not seen for 800,000 years (according to fossil and glacial records), and human beings are directly responsible or indirect of this concentration ”.
Our lifestyle demands energy, resources, biodiversity and water in such quantities that we will leave a mark on the fossil record.
If this continues, life will be unsustainable for future generations and the Global Ecological Footprint corroborates this: humans demand 1.6 planets a year.
To raise awareness and modify consumption habits towards a more sustainable world, concepts such as environmental footprint and ecological footprint (which includes carbon footprint and water footprint) have been devised, based on the calculation of the impacts of the manufacture of products, the activity of people, companies and governments.
The environmental footprint measures the impacts that arise throughout the life cycle of a product, from the extraction of the raw material for its manufacture, during its operation and until its final disposal; it is a smaller measure that the European Union has already implemented.
Meanwhile, the ecological footprint It is a more comprehensive measure, it estimates the amount of nature that an individual uses for food, shelter, mobility, goods and services.
It takes into account the carbon footprint or greenhouse gas emission, the water footprint or water used to produce an input, the fishing area, grazing and cultivation lands, the built-up area and the forest products.
It is a concept conceived by William Rees and his then student Mathis Wackernagel, at the University of British Columbia in 1996.
The latter is the founder of the Global Ecological Footprint, a non-profit organization that provides the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts of more than 200 countries and the Ecological Footprint Calculator that can be accessed to calculate the individual footprint.
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Where to start with caring for the environment?
Knowing how it was produced, where what we consume comes from and the energy expenditure involved, suggests Carlos Galindo, of the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Conabio).
The next step is to buy from local producers committed to sustainability; and at home, change conventional light bulbs to LED, put water-saving taps, solar panels, implement rainwater harvesting systems, orchards and green roofs.
Indoor plants, why did we become addicted to them in the pandemic?
The plants capture carbon dioxide (CO2), lead, vanadium, mercury, manganese, zinc and chromium, highly polluting greenhouse gases and when processed, they expel oxygen, contributing to a healthier environment, he says. Jerónimo Reyes Santiago.
They are particles suspended in the atmosphere of 2.5 micrometers, the smallest that manage to enter our body through the skin, adds the person in charge of the collection of crassulaceae and cacti in danger of extinction in the Botanical Garden of the UNAM.
Beyond providing us with the ecosystem service of filtering the air we breathe, indoor plants convey peace, harmony and hope.
By seeing their different stages of growth, by watering them, changing the soil and removing the dry leaves, we become emotionally involved, we learn from them and we feel happiness when they bloom.
Itzel Leon Magallón, a teacher in Gestalt Psychotherapy, explains that having indoor plants exercises subcortical structures of the brain.
“The amygdala – in charge of processing and storing emotional reactions – finds from perception through the look, memory, meaning, contact, aroma, color and texture of a plant the awakening of a sensitization that stimulates pleasure in that area” .
Connections that favor learning are activated.
A plant motivates us to investigate its care such as sun exposure and watering, and even if it dies, emotions of pain are worked on on small scales, an advantage to process frustration.
Having a vegetable garden or mini garden also favors family coexistence, since all the members of a house can be co-responsible for its care, says Alejandra Alvarado Zink, from the General Directorate for the Disclosure of Science at UNAM.
The expert comments that in this pandemic she received many calls and emails from parents asking her for advice on adopting plants, so the interest is remarkable.
The first thing he recommended was that they reflect on whether they would have time to take care of them. If they accept the challenge, he advises starting with sprouts, for example, lentils, because they are very easy to care for seeds.
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And what about the blue carbon?
Blue carbon o Blue carbon is the carbon that is captured and stored in coastal ecosystems, especially mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses.
These sites can absorb up to 50 times more blue carbon in their sediments and roots than other tropical forests and their conservation should be a priority in adaptation strategies to climate change.
Mexico ranks twelfth among the countries with the greatest resources and marine-coastal ecosystems, according to the Blue Carbon Initiative, however, it also faces an accelerated annual deforestation rate of 0.43% per year.
At this rate, in the next 25 years the damages will exceed 400 million dollars (8,345 million pesos), according to Octavio Aburto, professor of marine ecology at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
Due to its relevance, for the first time, a section on blue carbon is included in the Sixth National Communication and Second Biennial Update Report before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where an estimate of its storage in mangroves, in 330 million tons and seagrass, in 42 million tons, in the country.
Ideally, with the conservation and restoration of these sites, more blue carbon could be stored, but it is not an easy task, acknowledges María Amparo Martínez, general director of INECC, the agency responsible for drafting said document, “due to pollution and atmospheric processes. concentration of CO2, the sea has been acidifying and is not capturing more ”.
Successful experiences in the restoration of coastal ecosystems such as Nichupté and Sian Ka’an, located in the Yucatan peninsula, in which Jorge Herrera Silveira, from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies – Mérida Unit, has participated, are proof that it is can, you just have to strengthen conservation policies and restoration policies, he considers.
The researcher adds that Mexico should implement the commitments acquired in international agreements on climate change, for this, it is necessary to involve local communities for the conservation and sustainable use of coastal resources with activities such as fishing and tourism.