On Environmental Day, Climate Change, and the place of Celebrities - The Native

On Environmental Day, Climate Change, and the place of Celebrities

Connecting people to Nature_U.N

2017 will mark the 43rd year since the United Nations chose June 5th as a day to celebrate & to raise awareness on the importance of the natural environment & the need for everyone to treat it like a mutual home. Customarily, each World Environment Day (WED) is organized around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme of this year’s WED is “Connecting people to Nature”. It’s intended to urge people to appreciate nature’s beauty, think about being a part of nature and how much we depend on it. It goes further to challenge us to find “fun” and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship we have with the earth and what it inhabits.

Ideally, when you think of fun you think of people who always have exciting plans, organize events, meet a ton of interesting people and have great experiences to look back on later in life. These kinds of people include celebrities. Celebs are always out and about, whether they’re getting shows, preparing for some soon to be released project or just living.

A host of celebrities are philanthropists, using their off-time to support charitable cause. The privilege and exposure that their jobs often provide them offers a way for them to connect with people. Consequently, they are able to build up influence, interest (and maybe even confuse) masses. Sharing opinions, building trust, and connecting to a worldwide audience encapsulates the core of operations they are involved in. But today being environmental day, there are few if any ‘celebs’ clamouring for climate change and environmental day in attempt to “connect people to Nature”, as you’ll expect to be done in Nigeria, and as it is done elsewhere.

Leonardo DiCaprio is a prime example of using public good will to promote environmental causes.  Over the last few years, DiCaprio has steadily lent his celebrity and donated at least $61.1m in funding (according to his foundation)  to help advance the United Nations climate negotiations, protect coral reefs and tigers, and spread public awareness about the dangers of climate change. There’s also Cameron Diaz who uses her life after-acting to promote Al Gore’s Live Earth campaign, an event developed to increase environmental awareness through entertainment, and in turn raise awareness of climate change. These people take pride in supporting the cause, using every opportunity they get – even if it means using your acceptance speech for best actor at the Oscar’s to urge a global audience to reject the “politics of greed”, and support leaders willing to take “action against climate change” – to speak up for what they stand for. I could go on listing other names but you get the drift -other actors are avowed climate campaigners, and other wealthy individuals give to environmental causes too.

Yet, for the sake of argument, I’ll agree that the thing of social justice is largely rooted in freedom and willingness to do or not to do. I realize I am expecting a lot off celebs and it’s easy to forget that it takes passion and good understanding to be able support a cause.

The only rent we pay to Mother Earth is to ensure we preserve Earth so it may survive after we are long gone for the next generation._K.Disu

One thing we are yet unable to do in Nigeria is to totally sensitize people on issues except it has a sense of physical urgency (think the Ebola and SARS virus crises). People take things with levity so long it isn’t affecting them instantly. It is the reason we have people who don’t regard the environment and go ahead to mess it up on all sides and it’s also the reason June 5th is disregarded, better still not known by many. I guess what I’m trying to say here is we should be more involved.

It is more important than ever to take action. In December 2015, 195 countries (Nigeria included) adopted a universal climate deal to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030. On President Trump’s decision to pull out of the historic Paris Agreement 4 days ago, it didn’t take long for politicians and business moguls to react just through a click of a tweet, in a way that made you see that they are actively participating. Celebrities joined the discussion too.

The push to reduce environmental damage goes beyond formulating policies to seeking effective channels of implementation, it’s important that we let people mitigate the deadly effects by letting them appreciate the reality too.

There are actual ways to celebrate this day in Nigeria. From taking time out with the kids at the “Kids Beach garden” in Lekki, to supporting CSR initiatives like Visionscape to clean up and transform cities, to planting, joining forces with people in your neighbourhood to get rid of that clutter in the estate that has been a pet peeve of everyone, going into rural areas and taking out garbages and donating to organisations that do this.

…step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got – Barack Obama

Remember to connect with nature and care for your environment. It’s defining. Happy world environment day.

Of overused nollywood actors and burnt out celebrities

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Fisayo is a journalist who thinks writing is hard and reading too. But her journey somewhere reveals, words are like pawns on chessboard when writing. She wants to create and share with the world. See the world, experience and communicate these experiences. Tweet at her @fisvyo

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