By Rachel Grubbe
What is my favorite holiday this time of year? That's right, International Mountain Day.
Out here in East Tennessee we really do love our Smoky Mountains. International Mountain Day falls on December 11th. It is a much deserved holiday to celebrate and draw attention to the importance of all mountains.
Maybe you haven’t heard, but mountains are a really big deal.
Over half of the human population relies on mountains for food, water, and clean energy. Mountains make up about a quarter of all land space on earth. AND mountains provide about 70 percent of the world's freshwater.
But, I have bad news. Global Warming is doing some serious damage to our mountains.
In most places in America we are incredibly privileged, we turn on the faucet and clean water comes out. Without mountains we would be seriously thirsty. Mountains are basically nature’s water towers, storing water in ice and snow. It is so important to recognize that fresh mountain water is a finite resource that should never be taken advantage of. Without emphasis on good environmental practices, we can say goodbye to clean freshwater. I am talking about a global water crisis.
Global Warming is bad-news-bears for every ecosystem on the planet, but it not the only reason mountains are in danger.
Agricultural practices in the mountains are less than ideal. I’ll just outline a few big issues:
Removal of vegetation coverage
Fertilizer and insecticide use
If you don’t know why that is bad, let me fill you in.
Water runoff comes down the mountains and enters the water systems below. Without proper vegetation coverage, a heavy rain will cause erosion and mudslides. As all that rainwater comes down the mountain, unimpeded by vegetation coverage, it brings everything with it. That includes fertilizer and insecticide. Those substances pollute all of the lakes and rivers in the watershed. Contaminated water leads to an increase in the spread of diseases. Estimated 840,000 people die every year from unsafe drinking water.
So who can fix some of these issues? No seriously, World Health Organization (WHO) can help fix these issues. WHO is responsible for setting water quality regulations, and testing water quality. WHO’s water quality standards protect public health and reduce risk of health issues caused by poor water quality. WHO is working on the water quality issue, but there is only so much one organization can do.
You can help too! Celebrate my favorite holiday by focusing on reducing your environmental impact and carbon footprint. Not just on International Mountain Day, but everyday!