World Wildlife Fund is proud to be a sponsor of Earth Day 2000. Today, as millions of people around the world celebrate the wondrous diversity of life on Earth, it is perhaps not out of place to look back at what has happened to our planet in the 30 years since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970.
Over the last 30 years, the world has lost an area of forest nearly half the size of the continental United States. We have dumped literally billions of tons of toxic chemicals, raw sewage, oil and agricultural runoff into our oceans and we have depleted 70% of the Earth's most commercially important marine fish stocks. And, of course, we have all heard by now about how the Earth is warming; about how global temperatures have risen by one degree in the past century - with most of that increase occurring in the last 30 years.
The news, of course, has not been all bad. We have learned a lot about how to care for our environment over the past three decades. Great strides have been made in terms of cleaning our air and purifying our water. And more people undoubtedly have a greater awareness and concern for the environment today than they had 30 years ago.
Yet much more needs to be done - particularly about what, over the next 30 years, will become one of the greatest over-arching threats our environment has ever faced: global warming. From polar bears in the Arctic to coral reefs in the tropics, global warming is already beginning to affect wildlife and their habitats in potentially devastating ways.
That is why this year's Earth Day theme-Clean Energy, Now-is so important. By developing cleaner and alternative forms of energy, we will gradually lessen our dependence on the fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide and other global warming causing gases into the atmosphere.
As an organization that has worked for nearly 40 years to protect the Earth's wild species and spaces, for WWF the choice is clear. Clean energy technologies have an indispensable and growing role to play in protecting the Earth for both wildlife and people. We ask our leaders to endorse the Clean Energy Agenda--for the sake of our children, for the sake of our wildlife and for the sake of our future.
For games, facts and tips about Earth Day and global warming visit www.worldwildlife.org/earthday or visit the WWF booth at the national event on The Mall.