At the risk of dating myself, I grew up in the Captain Planet and Fern Gully generation. I participated in Earth Day clean up events before I understood much about the consequences of my ingrained consumerist behavior. When I was a kid, the big environmental problems could be addressed with a grocery bag full of litter and curbside recycling.
This past Earth Day, my normally celebration-happy town square was deserted. I was the only one shopping with cloth bags. I ironically wrote the words “Earth Day” on my “Nature’s Power” themed wall calendar, which had left the square unmarked.
There’s talk of the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, being disbanded. Our National Parks are defunded, and the internet meme is that Smokey Bear is eerily correct … only we can prevent forest fires.
With the CO2 levels in our atmosphere, climatologists are now predicting that there is no way to prevent global climate change.
Do we just give up? Is the environmental battle over? Do we turn in our chasing arrow badges and our planeteer rings?
I would hope that the answer is a resolute and resounding NO! Because, we still haven’t found a replacement Earth. We still live here and we’re still having children and we’re still hoping to eat, to breathe, to drink from the planet we live on. We can’t afford to be blaissez about this issue.
This isn’t a special interest. This is the root of all interests. We can’t eat money. We can’t make products from snapping our fingers together and willing them into existence.
What do we tell our children? That we’re sorry, but the continued existence of life on Earth, and their lives, were just too “fringe” for us to consider?
What Can We Do?
I suggest we do away with “the environment”, a cold, sterile word that seems so “special interest” and refocus on activity that is “Earth-friendly”. Refocus on “Our Planet”. Our connection.
We don’t give up in despair in face of the over-sized problem we’ve fallen into. We fight for as long as we wish to eat, to breathe, to drink, and so on.
You, me, our children and our grandchildren – we’re all in this together. Maybe we all find different solutions to work on. Our interests and specialties may vary, but our passion shouldn’t. This is situation critical. We can’t be lax now.
But if you have no idea what you are going to do. May I humbly make some suggestions to get you started:
- Consume less stuff. Everything made has an environmental footprint. Check in with yourself before making a purchase. Do I really need this? Will this serve a function in my life?
- Replace the plastic. If you have a choice between two materials, choose the item that isn’t made from plastic.
- Avoid single use everything. Figure out how to use and reuse items for as long as you can.
- Speak up. The reason there was no Earth Day celebration in my local town square, the reason the EPA is in danger of being disbanded, that National Parks are being defunded is because politicians believe we just don’t care. You and I both know this isn’t true.
According to NBC News, in an article written by Avalon Zoppo, “On Feb. 3, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, introduced a bill in the House that would terminate the EPA by the end of 2018”.
How seriously should we take this? The Washington Post published an article reviewing in detail the proposed 2018 budget in an article called “What Trump cut in his budget”. Guess which three letter agency received the largest funding cut.
The Guardian notes, in an article entitled “Donald Trump ‘taking steps to abolish Environmental Protection Agency’”, that eliminating the EPA was a campaign pledge of Trump. The article points to specific and worrying regulations already taking place. “Fears of a purge of EPA climate data, research, and reports have been fuelled by the removal of climate science material on a White House website and a ‘temporary hold’ placed on new publications until they have been vetted by politcal appointees.” (political appointees, not scientists) Let’s be clear, American citizens have funded this research, but we’re not being allowed to have access to the results. For political reasons.
According to a New York Post article, “Carbon dioxide levels hit ‘point of no return’ by Lauren Tousignant, “in 2015, when CO2 levels officially passed 400 ppm, which climate scientists call the ‘point of no return.’ After this mark, they claim, climate change is irreversible.”
Some may think that this is the signal to stop fighting. But consider this, while carbon dioxide is slow to dissipate, methane, the second most prevalent greenhouse gas can trap up to 100 times more heat inside the atmosphere and can dissipate from the atmosphere, if the problem is addressed, much more quickly.
I reiterate: we can’t afford to stop fighting. We may have to change our battle strategy, but we can’t just quit.