Olympians For The Environment
There are a lot of lists about impressive records of human feats over the course of history. In the recently concluded London 2012 Olympics, the world has seen the remarkable potential of how human ability and accomplishment can push the limits. Now TreeHugger has come up with an interesting list of human achievements – this time, for the environment. TreeHugger originally lists 19 human accomplishments, but here are seven favorites that stand out:
51 Year Old Man Relocates Almost 500 Trees By Himself
A tree is a marvel of nature, designed to be in the ground and stay in the ground with perhaps just a few exceptions. Some need a mega machine tree spade to move them, but 51 year old Bernie O’Brien has relocated close to 500 trees by himself over the years. He manually digs up the tree and then loads them in his truck to be replanted in the property surrounding his house. O’Brien shares in a video how his physical limitations sometimes test him, but he just keeps going on for another half hour and then another until he has rescued an unwanted tree. Though he is no mega machine, he is surely a green Olympian to the trees he has rescued.
In Less Than A Day: Soldier Plants 20,101 Trees
Slow and sure is one of the best ways to get the job done, but speed has its achievements as well. Muhammed Yousuf Jamil, Lance Corporal in the Pakistani army, planted 20,101 tree saplings in less than a day – in 18 hours and 40 minutes to be exact. This outstanding soldier could have used his impressive physical fitness and endurance to accomplish some other task and earn equal fame, and it is salutary that he used his abilities to benefit the environment. Jamil received monetary reward and a promotion for his green Olympian act. His green act also made it to the Guinness World Records.
In Less Than An Hour: 9,000 Volunteers Plant Over 50, 000 Trees
Though not every one of us has Lance Corporal Jamil’s physical prowess, all of us have an undeniable potential to make a difference. Combining those abilities and potential on a larger scale inevitably results in something great, like this feat from Ladakh, India. On the tenth of October in 2010 around 9,000 volunteers planted over 50,000 willow saplings. The trees will help stabilize the soil and prevent mudslides in the area. The effort of the volunteers beat the current record at the time of 27,166 saplings planted by 8,000 people in an hour, in Peru.
Going 2,500 Miles Without Fossil Fuel
Tom Weis covered 2,500 miles from Boulder, Colorado to Washington D.C. on his special ‘Rocket Trike’, complete with solar powered turn signals and headlamps. He achieved the feat without using any fossil fuel at all, sending a message about clean energy through his effort. Though Tom Weis’ feat is hard to replicate even to tenth of the distance, it still serves as an inspiration to look for alternative green ways to travel – saving the environment unnecessary emissions from gas powered vehicle rides, especially over short distances.
4 Million Mosquitoes In One Month
Sometimes a benefit takes form in the removal of something harmful, rather than in the addition of something good. Huang Yuyen, a pig farmer inTaiwan, certainly removed a lot of harm in her 3 pounds, 5 ounces bag of mosquito kills in a month. Her achievement was due to a contest held by Imbictus International, a company which manufactures an environmentally friendly mosquito trap. Yuyen used 10 of the mosquito trap devices and set them around her farm. TreeHugger calculates her feat at 90 mosquitoes captured per minute continuously over a month. One can only guess at the potential effects of Yuyen’s actions in lives spared from disease and even death.
1 Entire Species Saved By Dedicated Scientist
Given that numerous species of plants and animals become extinct every year, saving the entirety of a unique species is equal to discovering one. Andy Wood, a biologist from North Carolina, has given decades of his life and work to save the ramhorn snail from extinction. The creature’s habitat has shrunk from droughts in the area, and Wood worked to breed them in captivity. Wood’s efforts may be the only remaining hope for the species as it is only rarely seen in the wild at present. A single species of freshwater snail saved may not seem much, but each creature has its place in its ecosystem and ultimately the biosphere.
67 Year Old Man Rescues 25 Foot Long Humpback Whale
We’ve seen Olympian green acts for the environment raking up the numbers, but there are times when making a difference for a single life is just as significant. 67 year old Peter Brown rescued a dying juvenile humpback whale he and his wife encountered while on a sailing trip around the coast of Brisbane, Australia. On spotting the whale entangled in a shark net, Brown immediately called the authorities. However with the whale’s blowhole underwater, time was running out. With nothing more than his able hands and a kitchen knife, Brown jumped into the water when attempts to cut the net from the boat did not work. Brown’s brave act may have spared only one life, but just like the boy and the starfish story, his efforts are not wasted.
So what does this mean for the rest of us who are not Olympians, green or otherwise? Before we start comparing ourselves to each other it would be wise to remember that each one of us is uniquely made, with our own gifts and abilities. Furthermore, everyone has a sphere of influence that none of these Olympians, no matter how great they are, can touch. The opposite is just as the same. There maybe an abandoned lot that only you can see as an urban green space in your neighborhood, or an urban tree that you can rescue. There maybe a ‘negative’ in your community and environment that you can perceive – even cancel out. Finally, there may be a life or lives within your reach where only you can make a difference. In these ways we can be green ‘Olympians’ in our own right, for our environment and society.
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