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Two parks were opened in Johannesburg this week in the build up to International Earth Day, a day on which the environment is celebrated.
EVER-ADVANCING technology is necessary for the development of the human race, but the same inventions are hurting the Earth.

International Earth Day, celebrated on 22 April, is a day intended to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the environment. The day encourages people to go green so that the Earth may be preserved for generations to come.

To mark the day, the City of Joburg and City Parks has in this week launched two parks, at each of which they planted well over 100 trees.

First was Pennyville Park in Pennyville, which was officially opened on 18 April. At the opening, Executive Mayor Amos Masondo encouraged residents to mark International Earth Day by committing themselves to adopt healthy lifestyles.

Quoting the award-winning author, Catriona Macgregor, Masondo told those present to make a difference by spending more time with nature, take action to protect and restore nature and live sustainably. They were also urged to watch less television and to take time walking and reflecting on life, and just relaxing.

The flower power themed Pennyville Park consists of a soccer field, seating areas, water taps, an irrigation system, traditional game spots, paved pathways and landscaped picnic areas.

The second park to be opened in this week was Pimville Xtreme Park, which was built on 20 April.

At this park, some 250 indigenous trees were planted. This is in keeping with the City’s broader greening agenda, Bridging the Green Divide. So far, more than 200 000 trees have been planted in the southern part of Joburg, while there is continual rehabilitation and greening of the Jukskei and Klip rivers. The City is also continuing to green soccer fields in the south.

Joburg also promotes greening through Rea Vaya, the first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Africa. Rea Vaya operates energy efficient buses running at regular intervals on dedicated lanes, helping to combat traffic congestion and improve the quality of public transport. The efficiently run system resulted in some private car owners parking their cars in favour of Rea Vaya.

Masabatha Mathikge is one of them. Mathikge, who lives in Dobsonville, says she likes the bus because it gets her to work on time; it is cheaper than a car; and it provides luxurious service compared to a minibus taxi.

If just 15 percent of car users who live close to the city switch to Rea Vaya, carbon dioxide emissions can be cut by 1,6 million tons by 2020.

In addition, the Rea Vaya buses are the cleanest on the continent, running on low-sulphur diesel with the most advanced pollution reduction equipment. They reduce nitrous oxides, the most dangerous health risk from vehicular emissions, by thousands of tons a year and particulate matter by hundreds of tons annually.

The first Earth Day was held in 1970, when 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organised protests against the deterioration of the environment.

The day was founded by the United States senator, Gaylord Nelson, as a day to teach and learn about the environment. Two decades later, an organisation launched by Denis Hayes took it international in 1990 by organising Earth Day events in 141 countries.

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