A fisherman walks on the shores of the Arabian Sea, littered with plastic bags and other garbage, in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. India is scheduled to deposit the ratification instruments of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change with the United Nations on Sunday, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth, who believed in a minimum carbon footprint. India accounts for about 4.5 percent of emissions. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
A fisherman walks on the shores of the Arabian Sea, littered with plastic bags and other garbage, in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. India is scheduled to deposit the ratification instruments of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change with the United Nations on Sunday, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth, who believed in a minimum carbon footprint. India accounts for about 4.5 percent of emissions. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) Rafiq Maqbool

SUNDAY SAY: Honour Earth's charter

The Earth Charter has been described as one of the world's three greatest documents along with the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Earth Charter's preamble emphasises its sense of wholeness - "We must decide to live with a sense of universal responsibility identifying ourselves with the whole Earth community as well as our local community. We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world in which local and global are linked.”

It is surely a call for us to see ourselves as Earth citizens concerned with the present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world. We must realize that a kinship with all life is vital.

In "The Earth Charter in Action”, Mary Evelyn Tucker, a professor at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania has written:

"The twenty-first century may be remembered as the century in which humans laid the foundations for the well-being of the planet as a whole by embracing the Earth Community. The future of life may depend on the largeness of our embrace for we are now challenged as never before to build a multi-form planetary civilisation inclusive of both cultural and biological diversity.”

With the threat of climate change and high extinction rates in the planet's diversity, the need to put the Earth Charter's principles into practice should be obvious to all.

Already we have higher sea levels threatening poorer people in Pacific island nations and in other low-lying places like Bangladesh.

But . . . and it is looming as a big 'but'.

We have a newly inaugurated President of the United States proclaiming "America first”, suggesting that the well-being of our Earth community is a far cry from his thinking.

Questions of great significance are quickly arising.

Will President Trump listen to his scientists who warn about climate change?

Will he realize that the "protection of the Earth's vitality, diversity and beauty is a sacred trust” (Earth Charter Preamble)?

The future of life on earth may depend on his response.

- Stan Mussared, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition



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