Reported by Erika, Environmental Science Student
Today, our Earth is facing major threats. We are going through a mass extinction at a rate we've never seen before, our Earth's lungs－the rainforests are being cut down, the oceans and atmosphere are becoming polluted, and we're now likely to exceed a 2℃ rise in global temperature which would have catastrophic consequences. These problems are caused by our unsustainable practices. Last Friday, the Environmental Science class travelled to Tokyo University to take part in the 25 years Commemorative Conference of the Establishment of the Blue Planet Prize. The Blue Planet Prize is an international environment award which recognises individuals who have made major contributions to solving global environmental problems.
We were fortunate to discuss a variety of environmental issues in person with three former Blue Planet Prize laureates:
- Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, Senior Fellow of the United Nations Foundation and the grandfather of biodiversity.
- Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Professor of Oregon State University and former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- Dr. Robert Watson, Chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services, and former Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
We discussed various topics such as; a global loss of biodiversity, a continued reliance fossil fuels and a slow switch to renewable energy, modern animal agricultural practices, the Taiji dolphin hunt, and the Paris Agreement. After hours of discussion, we reached a final question. "What can we do to solve these problems?" These environmental problems have been marginalised for too long, and we have the responsibility as students, the future of this world, to:
1. Become educated on complex environmental issues; and then act locally but think globally.
2. Contact our government representative by phone and/or letter to campaign for change.
3. Vote for representatives who prioritize the environment.
All laureates agreed that the time to act is now if we wish to have a chance to keeping a healthy world full of diverse life for the generations to come.