TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) launched a series of activities yesterday to observe the upcoming World Environment Day, urging the public to participate in a carbon-reduction movement.
In order to encourage more people to join the environmental movement, the EPA has designated two mascots as ambassadors of the campaign — a polar bear and a Formosan black bear — both of which are victims of climate change, the EPA said.
Compared to a century ago, the global temperature has increased by an average of 0.74 degrees Celsius, which is enough of an increase to be fatal for some animals, EPA Bureau of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Director Hsiao Hui-chuan said at a press conference.
According to the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the polar ice sheets have suffered a reduction of an average of 100,000 square km per year for the past two decades, causing polar bears, which find their prey on the ice fields, to starve.
EPA officials predicted that by 2060, 22,000 polar bears will have died because of the melting ice.
The Formosan black bear, which is endemic to Taiwan and lives in remote mountain areas, has also been affected by the rising temperatures, as plant life is disrupted and the incidence of forest fires increases.
According to EPA claims, Taiwan has only an estimated 200 Formosan black bears left, although Taiwan’s leading researchers say there is no way to accurately estimate their numbers.
“In response to the World Environment Day’s theme this year — Kick the habit! Toward a low carbon economy — people are encouraged to participate in the campaign by changing their daily habits, such as replacing their conventional light bulbs with energy-saving ones, eating local food, refusing excessive packaging and using no disposable tableware or napkins,” said Hsiao.
On June 5 — World Environment Day — the EPA will organize a gallery of photos featuring the effects of global warming and an outdoor cinema in Taipei. World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.
It is one of the vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.