Earth Day 2021!
Once again, our planet’s very own holiday is upon us. Every April 22 for the last 51 years, the most widely celebrated secular holiday focuses on our connection or in some cases our disconnection with our planet Earth. In my Earth Day blog from last year I briefly summarized the history behind Earth Day and why it is an important day.
The main theme of Earth Day 2021, Restore Our Earth, is quite appropriate given the climatic changes that resulted in ferocious wildfire and hurricane seasons last year. The interconnectivity of global processes and systems is particularly evident given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One of the designated five pillars of this year’s Restore Our Earth theme is climate literacy. According to the EarthDay organization, climate literacy is defined as, “A climate literate person is a critical thinker who understands complex relationships of multiple variables of the climate system and acts in the best interest of long-term global health.” Whoa, a lot to consider in that definition. The main message of that definition is being open to evaluate and consider scientific findings. We must understand that science is not always exact, but at the same time cannot be totally dismissed as useless if it doesn’t comply with one’s beliefs. Case in point. It has been disappointing to witness the number of people who have denied the need for preventative measures suggested by researchers and medical professionals to reduce the spread of Covid 19. Even with death counts escalating this time last year, the number of people discounting the advice of experts was unfathomable. Considering the situation with Covid 19 and the denial of many people to conduct appropriate behavior as suggested by professionals, it is no wonder a subject like climate change is not widely accepted. As the second part to the definition mentions, a climate literate person needs to understand “the complex variables of climate systems.” Frankly, that is not an easy task even for a well educated person. However, the critical thinking person will consider various sources for their news and science information and be willing to be open to expert analysis and opinions.
There can be no doubt addressing climate change is a daunting challenge. As previously mentioned, one must first accept that every system on Earth is connected. We cannot expect that environmental degradation in one part of the globe will not impact other continents. Our human behavior will dictate the consequences climate change will have on all of us. Unfortunately, the effects are oftentimes disproportional in severity. But if you really think about the impacts of climate change in this country, I suspect no part of the United States has been untouched. Consider Phoenix, Arizona, were last year they suffered through 144 days of temperatures above 100 degrees! While those kinds of temperatures are great if you want to spend your day lounging in the pool or post social media videos of frying eggs on a sidewalk, but for most people that kind of heat definitely impacts one’s outdoor activities. For those living in the West, last year’s wildfires had a direct impact on air quality and the ability to enjoy any outdoor activity. Being a landscape photographer, wildfire smoke can create some dramatic sunrises and sunsets, but clearly the devastation they create is not worth a few interesting photographs. For those who like ticks and mosquitoes, warmer temperatures in the Northeast are just perfect for increased insect populations and the illnesses associated with them. Yea, you get the picture, there are many impacts of climate change in every part of the country.
Considering the daunting complexities of climate change and the actions necessary to reverse course on what scientists consider to be an upcoming environmental catastrophe, how can we be part of the solution?
It is understood that we all don’t have means or resources to make dramatic changes in the fight against climate change, but I will speculate that from the following list, they are several actions you can implement very easily.
- Dryer balls! Yes, you read correctly. Instead of using fabric softener for the laundry drying; use dryer balls, particularly, the ones made out wool. Not only to they help remove wrinkles, the decrease drying time up to 50 percent, thus saving energy costs. Who knew?
- Winterize your home. For a reasonable cost, installing new weatherstripping on doors will pay off in a more comfortable and energy efficient home.
- Change light bulbs to LED or other energy efficient bulbs.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
- Eat more meat-free meals, less meat, or meat from local sources. It is well documented that the large agriculture growing facilities create greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating climate change
- Buy organic and local products if possible.
- Get politically active. Vote for candidates at all levels of government who consider climate change important.
- Use shampoo and conditioner bars – it will reduce plastics
- Educate yourself
- Educate others, particularly your children.
- Above all else, HAVE HOPE! In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket (David Suzuki).