Bulgaria marks Earth Day 2013 with protests, politics

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Marin Raykov was certain to have caused a happy buzz among protesting beekeepers on April 22 2013, Earth Day, by announcing that Bulgaria would vote in favour of a ban on neonioctinoid pesticides seen as hazardous to bee populations.

Raykov met with participants in the latest of a series of national protests against the pesticides, according to a statement by the government media office.

The protesters had held earlier demonstrations in a number of Bulgarian cities and towns, objecting to Bulgaria’s abstention in an EU vote on a pesticides ban.

The March vote at EU level was on a ban of three pesticides, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, for two years. Thirteen countries voted in favour, nine against and the rest, including Bulgaria, Germany and the UK, abstained. At an April 10 march, beekeeper Hristo Stoikov told Bulgarian National Television that in the past three years, close to 60 per cent of the bee population had disappeared. If the government failed to act, Bulgaria would be left with no bees. Separate reports said that about 200 000 bees died in Bulgaria in 2012, about 20 per cent of the country’s bee population.

Separately, environmental conservationist groups were scheduled to hold a protest on Earth Day against development in the Pirin mountain region. This is the latest in a series of protests for and against expanding the ski zones at Bulgaria’s popular mountain winter resort of Bansko.

Not missing a chance for a photo opportunity, and not unmindful of Bulgaria’s May 12 2013 parliamentary elections, members of the Bulgarian Socialist Party youth planted 22 trees in Assenovgrad. In the words of the party, the candidate MPs said that “as carefully as they had planted the trees, so they would keep to their commitments” if elected to the 42nd National Assembly.

Elsewhere in the world, according to a report by the Voice of America, environmentalists worldwide are celebrating Earth Day on Monday with events highlighting the effects of climate change and ways to protect the environment.

Established in 1970, when the budding environmentalist movement met with high fuel prices and air pollution, the Earth Day has become a day to focus on better practices to preserve the health of the natural world and reduce human impact on it.

Earth Day’s official web page says the day was established in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson after he witnessed the ravages of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Protesters against the Vietnam War also used the day as a chance to promote their cause.

Many Earth Day events are locally generated, and in many cases they involve community cleanup efforts at beaches, river watersheds, or other natural areas.

In Washington, residents are taking part in an effort to clean up the litter around the Anacostia River, a chronically polluted area. On the U.S. National Mall, students have been competing in a contest for environmental improvement programs.

In Veracruz, Mexico, volunteers are cleaning beaches and have organized a reforestation campaign.

In Jalandhar, India, a local organization has distributed free tree saplings to students for planting.

And in Seoul, South Korea – home to Gangnam Style pop sensation Psy – environmental advocates organized a dance event in which participants form a “flash mob” in response to a Gangnam Style song variation dubbed “Eco-style.”

(Photo: Nasa)



The Sofia Globe staff

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