BY KALEB J. CARDENAS ZAVALA
"The world's leading climate scientists have warned there are only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C" (Watts, 2018). The planet is severely damaged, and the weather is changing dramatically as a consequence. Human beings have made it this far; we thrived as a civilization, but today, our species is threatened to disappear if we don't act immediately. However, massive changes in people's behavior can transform into necessary actions to reverse some of the damage produced. These changes will have global effects by making local collective efforts.
Hong Kong is a fortuitous place in many ways; identified by its vibrant lifestyle, exquisite gastronomy, and unbeatable skylines. Moreover, this international port is enclosed by nature which makes it unusual amongst other urban jungles. At the same time, Hong Kong has some of the most critical problems that big metropolises around the world are suffering. It has one of the highest population densities, significant demographic challenges, and excessive pollution. Sadly, the Anthropocene era has rigorously modified the environment in this island and its surroundings.
Nevertheless, Hong Kong also has many opportunities because of its geographic position which enables optimum conditions for creative thinkers, financial development, and cultural integration. These effects have positive and negative sides. On the one hand, different cultures can meet and share different practices, knowledge and grow together as a society. However, the mixture of values and ideologies can create intolerance and conflict as well. Globalization is shaping different circumstances of our life in the future. The massive inequalities in population, over-consumption of resources and the irresponsible use of energy, are just a few results from recent times.
Through history, humans adapted fast and surpassed massive challenges. Notwithstanding, the current waste production is out of control and it´s getting worst rapidly. The disposable mindset in society combined with ignorance generates disruption in the essential processes from nature. Luckily, several people in Hong Kong are trying to change these conditions and inspire others to do the same.
The Adventure Clean Up Challenge (ACUC) is the first worldwide event of its kind. It is organized by people who inhabit this fantastic place and wish to preserve it for future generations. Esther Rowling and her husband toured for 6 consecutive days the entire coasts of the Hong Kong island in the year 2016. The impression to see large quantities of trash accumulated on the shore, encourage them to take actions. They began by making a complete cadaster of the condition and informing other people about the issue.
Later on, Esther met Soledad Riestra, founder of Ecoed Life. Together, they created and convened the Adventure Clean Up Challenge. After summoning teams of volunteers interested in restoring the environment. They defined the 6 worst-contaminated and hard-to-access sites in Hong Kong; subsequently assigning a group for each beach. These teams will compete to achieve the ultimate goal: to design a creative and effective strategy to remove garbage and transport it to a collection site while raising awareness in the Hong Kong's community.
10 Spanish-speaking people integrate the Pachamama HK team. The group's name, Pachamama, means Mother Earth itself; inspired by the ancient language Quechua from the Andes mountains in Peru and its surroundings. Pachamama is the world's fertility goddess, providing nutrients to all species, a good harvest, and balance in the ecosystem. To sum up, she is in charge of sustaining all life on the planet.
This team is formed by enthusiasts who came to Hong Kong searching for a new chapter in life. Hailing from Siberia to the Canary Islands, the agave fields of Jalisco to the mists of Angel Falls and the wilds of Patagonia, we are a group who share a common passion and care for all living beings and are dedicated to helping to save Hong Kong's coastline.
The biggest hurdle we face for the challenge is human behavior. As a team, we will collaborate with other organizations, the government, and other volunteers. However, no action will have enough impact unless the problem is solved from its origin. It's necessary to make massive efforts in the reduction of goods consumption, implementing the reuse of materials, refusing single-use products and promote holistic consciousness.
In the following weeks, the team will visit the site assigned periodically to clean and transport the trash. At the same time, the engagement with people who visit this area will be crucial to incite continuous cleaning and respect for the environment after the contest finishes.
The ACUC is an excuse to organize ourselves and deploy strategies to include our society in the most critical test of our time. We want to clean one of the six identified shores that are accumulating trash due to our actions. With this effort, we seek to return some of the benefits of living in this stunning city and of course, this beautiful place we all share. Our planet Earth. Our only home.
1. Watts, J. (2018, October 08). We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report