Does this year feel any different, perhaps more urgent, than those of the past? It certainly does for me.
If you’ve been following the news from Washington D.C. over the last four months you know there are some starkly different visions for the future of our health, our economy and our planet that are playing out in the halls of power.
One vision for the future is one in which we protect each other from air and water pollution. Where we limit the use of toxins in our food production and manufacturing. Where our energy needs are met by clean, renewable sources. And where we accept the science that has been telling us for decades that human activity is changing our climate and that we need to come together to not only mitigate it but also to address the changes that are already occurring. This future will improve the health of people, plants and animals, and will combat the global warming that is the result of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions. Such a transformation has and will require a lot of work and a vast and highly skilled workforce.
Another vision for the future is one where we allow the interests of fossil fuel, chemical and other large industrial corporations to wipe away the protections for human health and the natural environment that have taken decades to develop. In this vision we will continue to watch as glaciers melt and permafrost thaws. We will see more pipelines forced upon communities that don’t want or need them. We will see our cities, buildings and bodies polluted by unregulated substances. We will see more destruction of our forests and more extinction of animal species. And we will continue to see human lives lost to more powerful storms coupled with rising tides and expanding droughts.
Yes, this Earth Day is different.
This Earth Day is the year when we really need to decide if we believe the future is worth fighting for. Do we look the other way and hope that someone else will do something? Or do we stop, think and choose to do something ourselves?
I could say something fairly innocuous here, like, turn off your lights for an hour or finally set up that rain barrel that you got a couple of years ago or even calculate your carbon footprint. Those are all good and necessary activities. But for this year and every year that follows for the foreseeable future — that simply will not be enough.
So do something more this year.
Take a look at the list below, pick something and do it. When you do, congratulations, you have just taken a stand in the defense of a livable future for us all. And when we come back to the office on Monday, we can think about how the work in front of us affects our health, our economy, our planet and how we might be able to use the power of design to propel those forward.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
Attend your local (or national!) March for Science on Saturday, April 22.
Make a plan to attend your local (or national!) Peoples Climate March on Saturday, April 29.
Check out one or more of these groups listed below.
These are nationally recognized non-profit groups who are now busier than ever making sure we do not slip backwards on the progress we have made in creating a healthier planet. Making a donation to one or more is an obvious course of action. But many of these also have local chapters – see what they are up to in your area and get involved.
http://earthjustice.org/ – EarthJustice is the largest nonprofit environmental law organization in the country, working to protect wildlife, for healthy communities, and for cleaner energy options. The organization represents its clients free of charge.
http://www.sierraclub.org/ – The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the county, and works to protect millions of acres of wilderness and pass legislation like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
https://www.nrdc.org/ – The National Resources Defense Council works to safeguard the earth – it people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.
https://www.edf.org/ – The Environmental Defense Fund forges solutions that let people and nature prosper.
https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/ – Our Children’s Trust elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future generations.
https://citizensclimatelobby.org/ – Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change
https://350.org/ – 350.org is building a global grassroots climate movement that can hold our leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of justice.
http://www.earthday.org/ – Earth Day Network ‘s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.