EARTH DAY IS A REMINDER NOT TO DISMISS THE SIGNS OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND HOW THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC SERVES AS A WARNING
April 22, 2020 marks 50 years of celebrating Earth Day and promoting causes and movements to protect and preserve our celestial home. This year’s theme is Climate Action. The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a reminder that we need to take existential threats seriously before they escalate out of control. The same lesson can be applied to the impending climate crisis.
According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the last five years have been the warmest on record, and 2020 is already trending towards the top of the list. This consistent annual increase in global temperature is causing the polar ice caps to melt at an exponential rate, putting the safety of coastal populations and crucial ocean ecosystems at serious risk. Weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable causing mass destruction in the form of more intense hurricanes, more widespread tornado outbreaks, longer wildfire seasons, and more devastating droughts and water shortages. And, as the globe warms the potential for more pandemics like COVID-19 grows as mosquitoes carrying diseases like malaria, dengue fever, chikunguya and West Nile virus roam beyond their current habitats.
WHAT IS EARTH DAY?
The good news is that we have previously pulled ourselves out of similar environmental calamity. The first Earth Day demonstrations in 1970 were in response to a lack of rules and regulations on human-caused environmental impacts. Issues like oil spills, smog, acid rain, and rivers so polluted they literally caught fire were top of mind as 20 million Americans took to the streets to protest environmental damage and demand a new way forward.
Following that first Earth Day, the federal government passed landmark environmental legislation like the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts, and also created the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many countries followed our lead in adopting similar laws, and our country’s leadership on environmental issues peaked with the negotiation and passage of the Paris Climate Agreement on Earth Day 2016.
WHY EARTH DAY IS IMPORTANT TO US
Earth Day is a special day at EnviroForensics. While we are an environmental consulting firm professionally, we are also a group of environmental allies who work together to provide solutions for environmental issues. We are also part of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM) Indiana Partners for Pollution Prevention program which is a commitment to environmental stewardship in the workplace.
Our mission is to clean up our corner of the world, and we support any effort that works towards a healthier environment for all. We support environmental initiatives put on by our Sustainability Council like our neighborhood cleanup program and our recycling initiative. And, we walk lockstep with our non-profit partner, Water for Empowerment, to help them champion environmental justice in the form of access to clean water and sanitation for women and families in Nicaragua.
BEACONS OF HOPE
Luckily, there are environmental scientists, activists, and organizers from all parts of the world who are not going to let that happen without a fight. Here are a few leaders in the climate crisis that you should know more about:
1. GRETA THUNBERG
Organization: School Strike for Climate
Over the past two years, the swedish teenager has become a household name. In 2018, she started skipping school to protest outside of Swedish Parliament and demand stronger climate action. Out of that small act of defiance, the “Fridays for Future” movement was born inspiring 13 million strikers across 228 countries worldwide. In 2019, Thunberg was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. She has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice.
2. JANE FONDA
Organization: Fire Drill Fridays
The two-time Academy award-winner has devoted a significant chunk of her time and energy to activism. In the 1960s, she protested the Vietnam War. In the early 2000s, she was a vocal critic of the Iraq War. She has fought for decades to advance the causes of Women’s Rights, Native Rights, and Israeli-Palestinian peace. Fonda is now the leader of the Fire Drill Fridays Movement, which holds weekly protest rallies on Capitol Hill, to demand Congress: 1) Pass the Green New Deal, 2) Commit to a 50% reduction in fossil fuels within a decade, and 3) Phase-out of existing fossil fuel projects and into a renewable energy economy that provides environmental justice for all.
3. MARI COPENY
Organization: Little Miss Flint
The 12-year-old activist is best known by her nickname “Little Miss Flint.” She gained notoriety as an 8-year-old, raising awareness about Flint, Michigan’s ongoing water crisis. Since 2016, she has raised over $500k for bottled water, school supplies, toys, and bikes for the children of Flint. Her work has expanded to fundraising for communities with similar water issues across the country.
4. JIM POYSNER
Organization: Earth Charter Indiana
Poysner is the Executive Director of Earth Charter Indiana, which is the only Earth Charter chapter in the U.S. The organization’s mission is to inspire and advance sustainable, just and peaceful living in Indiana. Their critical work starts early, supporting climate education of youth, and providing them with the tools to express themselves and make their voices heard.
5. ARMOND COHEN
Organization: Clean Air Task Force
Cohen is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Clean Air Task Force which has been in operation since 1996. The Clean Air Task Force is a nonprofit environmental organization devoted to the development and scale of low-carbon and other climate-protecting energy technologies.
6. ALEXANDRIA VILLASEÑOR
Organization: Earth Uprising
After suffering an asthma attack during a family trip to California during a massive wildfire, Villaseñor started researching climate change and how it impacts the severity of these fires. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, she began to skip school every Friday to protest outside the United Nations Headquarters. Her group, Earth Uprising is working on the following missions: 1) Local government lobbying, 2) Community presentations, educating others on the climate crisis, 3) Advocating for climate education in our school administrations and school boards, 4) Unique direct actions and protests, and 5) Participating in Fridays for Future and the global climate strikes.
7. XIYE BASTIDA
Organization: People’s Climate Movement
Bastida was one of the major organizers of Fridays for Future New York City and has been a leading voice for indigenious and immigrant visibility in climate change. In 2015, her family was forced from their home in Mexico after extreme flooding. They moved to New York City where Bastida enrolled at the Beacon School, and started organizing students for climate activism. She led the school in the first major climate strike in New York City in 2019. She has leadership roles in the People’s Climate Movement, the Sunrise Movement, and the Extinction Rebellion.
8. VANDANA SHIVA
Organization: Navdanya Research Foundation
Dr. Shiva is the founder of the Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology in Dehadrun, India. She is known for her work in environmental justice and food security. She is motivated by the mission to bring light to the most marginalized victims of climate change and work to illustrate the importance of cultural and ecological diversity to the survival of our planet.
9. AL GORE
Organization: The Climate Reality Project
The former Vice President has been one of the leading voices in climate activism in the 21st century. Gore’s 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, was one of the first wide release documentaries to sound the alarm on the threat of climate change. The Climate Reality Project is an organization of activists, cultural leaders, organizers, scientists, and storytellers committed to promoting urgent climate action across every level of society.
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