On Earth, Oil and a Prickly Virus.
HAPPY EARTH DAY, EVERYONE!!!
I love the idea of people globally connecting to find ways to save the world and, in turn, the generations to come. The fact is that we can all contribute to the problem or the solution. The choice is ours and, although it’s not a simple choice because it involves changing the way we live, it is probably one of the most important challenges we face. What we are doing today not only affects us, but it affects our lineage, as well. I’ll loop back around to today and the current solutions people are working on to improve our environment, but I think it’s important to reflect upon the last 50 years.
That’s right, 50 years.
The first Earth Day was in 1970 and was prompted by the affects that leaded fuel and industrial pollution were having on the Earth, as well as the people and animals who lived in it.
Back then, air pollution was considered “the smell of prosperity”. The general public was unconcerned, and most were unaware of the damage being done.
Inspired by an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California and the student anti-war protests, Senator Gaylord Nelson decided to schedule a “teach-in” on university campuses that would be reported through the national media. He brought on Pete McCloskey and Denis Hayes to help organize the event. The idea was to use the protesting voices of university students to catch the attention in the world and inspire change.
The result was that the first Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans to join the fight against the affect of 150 years of industrialism. This 10% of the country poised themselves in the streets, auditoriums, and many other places to give voice to the health concerns this pollution was raising. People joined each other in rallies that were country wide.
At the end of the year, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was created, and many environmental laws were put in place. 1970 also saw the beginning of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Clean Air Act.
Over the last 50 years, we have used Earth Day as a day to:
- Reflect upon what has happened
- Speculate what could happen
- Put plans in place to slow down the damage being done.
Since 1990, this day has been observed globally, but the power of many businesses, politicians, and lobbyists has drawn a line between those who stand to benefit financially from pollution, and those who are a part of environmental activism.
Earth Day Network
Much of the credit for sparking environmental activism can be awarded to the Earth Day Network. This group engages people in protecting the planet and can be a step into the world of environmental activism.
Although the 1 billion people that are part of Earth Day are fighting to clean up the mess humans have made, the fight is becoming more pressing. We are witnessing climate change and can not escape it. We know about it and the danger we face, but many don’t actively engage in cleaning up the mess.
Which leads us to the theme for Earth Day 2020, which is Climate Action, because climate change is inevitable, unless all countries make big strides towards improving the quality of the climate. I’ll post links below for those of you who want to know more and be a part of the solution.
Before you go…
But before I do, I want to bring something to your attention. With Coronavirus affecting millions of people worldwide, it is an obvious pandemic. It’s important that we take the time to listen to experts in global health and other applicable professions. Although this virus is new to us, there are people that will be obviously better suited to answer questions about the virus. These experts are a valuable resource, which should be referred to often while we struggle to break free.
What does the Coronavirus have to do with Earth Day?
You might be asking yourself “what does the Coronavirus have to do with Earth Day”? Bear with me. Alanna Shaikh is a global health journalist, involved in biosecurity and health systems, and has a master’s degree in International Health from Boston University. In terms of global health expertise, on a scale of 1-10, she says she is about a 7 or an 8.
She recently gave a Ted Talks and here’s what she had to say (paraphrased):
How it’s different
Coronaviruses are unique because they use RNA, instead of DNA to attach to the cells, using spikes like a crown. It’s a respiratory illness with symptoms which could go from cough and fever to deadly pneumonia. This range makes it difficult to identify. Additionally, it can transmit from animals to people and from human to human.
This virus is a result of how we have treated our planet.
I bring this up because this virus is a result of how we have treated our planet. Climate change is part of it, but it is also due to burning down rainforests and converting African bush to farms. This leads to the discovery of new species and new groups of people, which also introduces us to viruses we are not ready for (Shaikh, 2020).
To understand where we’re going…
Obviously, we are more focused on avoiding catching it and the treatment for it right now, but it helps to understand where it came from, because if we don’t know how we caused the problem, we won’t know how to prevent it from happening again.
This is a wake-up call that’s hard to accept. Obviously, most of us benefit from the advances in industry and other modern conveniences, but if you consider what is happening with the oil market, you’ll notice something.
From being at home, we have used so little oil, compared to normal that the oil market was in the negatives, earlier this month. They are running out of places to store the oil. Now think about what that means- If we are using such a small amount of oil now, that could lead to a large decrease in pollution.
Before we go patting ourselves on the back about that, it’s important to remember we did not do this intentionally. However, we now know a large reduction in oil consumption could be done.
Consider what would happen if everyone vowed not to drive their car 1 day a month, simultaneously.
That is what Earth Day is about. It’s about finding a way to make a difference and give life back to the Earth, which so graciously gave life to us.
Thanks for reading. I’ll leave links to the Tedx and to the Earth Day website so you can explore more information on these two topics.
From Earth Day:
WILL YOU JOIN THIS GLOBAL MOVEMENT AS WE BUILD TOWARD THE NEXT HALF CENTURY OF ACTION FOR OUR PLANET?
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Link to Tedx: