Earth Day, Celebrating our Planet

Monday, April 22, the people behind the movement known as Earth Day will celebrate a global commitment to keeping earth as clean, green and habitable as humanly possible.
 
According to the Earth Day Network, this commitment celebrates all that is right about sustainability, which most of us define as using our earth in a way that ensures future generations will have the same opportunities as we do.
 
As of 2013, we aren’t doing as well as we had hoped. Reminders – from environmental organizations like the World Wildlife Federation or Greenpeace, non-governmental social justice groups like the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, and even government/based environmental overseers like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – suggest that we need to do more, and do it faster, if we are to avert the kind of global climate nightmare predicted by environmental scientists.
 
It will undoubtedly be a greater struggle than first envisioned by concerned world citizens; we already know the magic number, 2 degrees (Celsius), has been passed up. Now, in the wake of the worst recession since America’s Great Depression, rescue efforts for earth are likely to be severely hampered by a lack of capital. And as NASA climate scientist James Hansen notes, the number itself is historically “a prescription for disaster” – one which scientists agreed to before they realized the climate tipping point was much lower.
 
So how does one celebrate the birthday of something that is reputedly dying? One hopes, because without hope it is impossible to go on.  This hope manifests as a peak of activity during which concerned individuals around the world attempt to educate their peers to the incipient dangers they face: flood, drought, freezing, more severe storms and the gradual erosion and displacement of pastoral societies in some of the poorest areas of the world.
 
These pastorals are already feeling the push of climate displacement. In the Arctic, as recently as 2003, melting Arctic Ocean ice had disrupted 86 percent of indigenous tribes living in coastal communities. As the Arctic continues to thaw, further displacement as a result of oil exploration and harvesting is likely to drive these natives away from their ancestral villages completely, and perhaps forever.
 
guineaFor the native inhabitants of the Carteret Islands of New Guinea, displacement has become an everyday misery as a result of rising ocean tides, salt water influx into fresh water wells, and progressive erosion.
 
These are the causes, and the people, that Earth Day addresses. You probably can’t get a ton of topsoil to the island of Han in the chain of Carteret Islands. But if you live in San Francisco you can “get down” during the daylong festival of singers and bands, or you can take part in one of the many “green” do-it-yourself project fairs. It may become a turning point in your life. It may even provide some meaning in the otherwise gloomy life of your teenage offspring.
 
Still more bored than bewitched? Go for the Eco (and very, very furless) fashion show, develop more than passing familiarity with the science behind electric vehicles, or EVs, or visit a permaculture village (also known a holistic wellness village), which combines the delight of a thousand dandelions with the Fibonacci balance of a flowering onion – a delight enhanced by a number of solar-powered wine and beer gardens.
 
At Pennsylvania State University, fondly known as Penn State, students and professors have morphed a single-day celebration into a five-day fiesta, from April 18 to 22. In a carefully plotted mesh of fun and science, Penn State undergrads plan to entertain with expos that show how careful use of resources combined with clean energy techniques can improve the chances that Earth survives human habitation.
 
In fact, no matter where you live there is bound to be an Earth Day event. Check with your city, township or county to see where and when. And what; you don’t want to be wearing your best slacks when your Earth Day leaders take you on a tree-planting expedition!
 
But don’t say no. If you’re single, the tree you plant may not be the only thing blooming this summer.

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