Earth Day, which is celebrated on Friday, is meant to inspire an awareness and appreciation for the vulnerability of this planet we call home.
It is the day designated to highlight the fact that we all have a responsibility to the environment and need to rectify our personal behavior to improve the quality of our air, earth and water.
Global awareness of the need to protect the environment has grown exponentially since 20 million people in the United States marked the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. That environmental teach-in was staged in protest at the US government's response to the destruction caused by an oil spill along the coast of southern California. For 10 days in January 1969, a damaged Union Oil platform spewed up to 100,000 barrels of crude oil into the ocean, fouling coastal communities, killing marine life and about 10,000 birds.
The incident was a wake-up call for the need to protect the well-being of Earth. But similar disasters have continued to happen.
Designating one day to the Earth's well-being and protecting its resources is clearly more than necessary.
China is struggling to lead the way to economic growth driven by renewable energy. The government is spending billions to exploit energy alternatives such as wind, solar, nuclear and tidal power.
China is committed to constructing a "resource-conserving and environmentally friendly society". The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) set targets that will frame the country's response to climate change. These included reductions in carbon-dioxide intensity, reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions - by increasing the proportion of non-fossil fuels in the energy structure - and the creation of new forest areas to boost forest cover. It also puts forward an "ecological security" strategy. In areas where development is limited or banned, ecological protection will be rigorously enforced and green buffer zones will be used to shield vulnerable land.
However, these efforts need to be matched by individuals in this country. A new study by OgilvyEarth, Ogilvy & Mather's sustainability practice, found a wide gap in China between people's claimed and actual sustainable behavior.
According to the study, Chinese people generally view solving environmental problems as the role of government, and to some extent corporations, rather than a personal responsibility. Sustainability practices are seen as too costly, too inconvenient and therefore unrealistic and impractical for the lives of "normal" people.
Apparently we don't think that reusing grocery bags and recycling water bottles can curb today's serious threats to the quality of our air, land and water. This is an easy place to start to make a difference when we celebrate Earth Day.