June 5 marks World Environment Day, an occasion promoted by the United Nations Environment Program or UNEP to increase awareness of the many environmental problems affecting livelihoods and the future of humanity. In support of this cause, people from around the world mark the day with their own events and campaigns aimed at lightening the mark our society leaves on the planet.
Every year there is a theme: this year it is "Eat. Think. Save", a campaign promoting the reduction of food waste. The UNEP estimates that roughly one third of the food produced in the world is lost or wasted. The problem is especially acute in rich countries, where around 222 million tones of food is wasted each year.
Production of large amounts of food necessitates large scale use of both fertilizers and water resources. Transport and preservation of this food further necessitates large scale use of energy. The subsequent waste of this food therefore is an unnecessary exacerbation of existing environmental problems.
Nevertheless, World Environment Day does not only focus on this one particular issue, recognizing that greenhouse gas-driven global warming is a looming and international threat. Air pollution threatens the health of citizens around the world. Water resources are at risk of becoming unusable, and soil contamination and exploitation carry similar risks.
At the same time, scientists are working on solutions to these problems, and policy makers that have been influenced by the environmental movement are devising policies that aim to curb and reverse these environmental threats. In China, for instance, President Xi Jinping has declared that polluters should be made accountable.
So how do experts assess the status of global environmental problems? What can be done to ensure that our lifestyle does not compromise the environment we live in? Ni hao, you're listening to People In the Know, bringing you insights into the headline news in China and around the world, I'm Zheng Chenguang in Beijing.
Ni hao, you're listening to People In the Know, bringing you insights into the headline news in China and around the world, I'm Zheng Chenguang in Beijing.
We speak to Nick Nuttal, spokesman for the UNEP and Prof. Zhang Weixian, research scientist and professor of environmental engineering at Tongji University in Shanghai.