Earth Day 2022: Invest in Our Planet
Introduction to Earth Day:
Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22nd in order to honor and raise awareness for the environmental movement. Earth Day activities and celebrations are facilitated by the Earth Day Network (EDN). The first Earth Day (ED) was held in the United States in 1970, and ever since Earth Day has been used as a tool for individuals to focus on our planet as well as celebrate milestones in sustainability. The EDN was founded on the premise that all people, regardless of race, gender, income, or geography, have a moral right to a healthy, sustainable environment. This mission is pursued through education, public policy, and activism in order to hopefully one day achieve those goals Earth Day is also a great way to think and reflect about what is working in society and what is not in regards to our environment, what else can be done, as well as educating people on why environmental activism is important.
Every year, the Earth Day Network (EDN) brings together more than 20,000 partners and organizations in 190 countries which in turn supports Earth Day missions year round. Earth Day brings together more than 1 billion participants every year, and is recognized as the largest, public, secular event in the world. The EDN also aims to achieve three major goals with their work. 1. To broaden the meaning of environment to include issues such as climate change, green schools and environmental curricula, green jobs, and renewable energy, 2. Diversify the movement by providing civic engagement opportunities at the local, state, national and global levels around the world and recognizing that climate change impacts our most vulnerable citizens first and 3. to Mobilize communities by working with partner organizations to provide opportunities for all citizens to become active in the environmental movement. On their website, you can find a map of hundreds of events regarding environmentalism and climate around the world. On this map, you can find events in an area near you as well as Umande Trust’s event which is to be held in Nairobi, Kenya on Earth Day!
Why Earth Day Matters:
For those who don’t know, CC is caused by high levels of greenhouse gasses being caught in our atmosphere, and this leads to the fittingly named greenhouse effect. Climate change refers to the diverse phenomena that are caused by global warming which can include warming, but also everything else including hurricanes, droughts, landslides, warmer temperatures, snow when there’s not supposed to be snow, ice caps melting, and global sea rise. Throughout history, carbon levels in our atmosphere have fluctuated, however, we have never seen such a steep increase in current global temperatures and atmospheric carbon levels in such a short amount of time. Vast amounts of research on this topic have led to scientists finding that human-produced carbon emissions are leading to climate change which threatens the balance of our global ecosystem.
We want a future for ourselves and future generations, which is why a worldwide celebration of the ways that we are all connected is so important. Earth Day makes us pause and reflect on what we can do to ensure that current and future generations can enjoy the world that we do. Earth Day brings awareness to environmental issues and why it's not only important to focus on these things on Earth Day, but it is important to bring these changes into our everyday lives for a sustainable, lived, future.
This Year’s Theme:
Earth Day’s theme of “Invest in Our Planet” not only makes us pause and think about how to spend money where it counts nowadays, but also how businesses and current investments are impacting the environment and something to be critical of. The Earth Day Network is recognizing that we need to focus on more than our own impacts. This theme of investment and general focus on the earth makes ED the perfect time to focus on carbon emissions. We have a sanitation day, a water day, a rainforest day, a recycling day, and an endangered species day, but NO day to specifically think about carbon emissions, aka, the largest threat to the survival of our planet.
We need to focus on investments because we are an increasingly capitalist world and our consumerism is highly taxing on the environment. If we insist on buying more and more, we must adapt those industries through investing in different tech.
It is so important for governments to regulate businesses, and this day highlights that they need to do better. However, we know that sometimes that is not possible due to polarization or lack of capacity, so Earth Day is an important reminder that businesses need to hold themselves accountable and set their own goals to reduce emissions outside of government regulation.
Let’s look at global carbon emissions to get a better sense of what Earth Day is focusing on and what our governments and industries need to accomplish:
Currently, Kenya’s largest greenhouse gas (GHG) related policy is the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution which states that Kenya has committed to reducing GHG emissions by 30% by 2030. However, this commitment is contingent or relies upon receiving international support and finance as well as capacity building support and development.
Invest in our planet means so many things: investing time in youth and peers through education, investing money in green energy, new technologies and our surroundings, and investing ourselves in government enrollment and community engagement. Investing in all of these things means investing in yourself and the future of the people that you care about.
Actions You Can Take to Minimize Your Impact:
First, shifting the blame of climate change onto consumers is misleading. Yes, every bit of carbon that you save from going into the atmosphere does make a difference. However, we need to understand that it is businesses and governments (that only care about profits) that are ruining our future. So get mad at your government and speak up; that is the first thing that you can do. Petition your government to invest in sustainable energy and divest from the fossil fuel industry. Speak up in any way that you can.
With that being said, it often feels as if there is nothing an individual can do in order to make a difference. However, you can make small adjustments and changes in your daily life in order to decrease your personal carbon footprint!
Invest in renewable energy like solar panels if you have the resources. Most of the time there is a way to finance them where they end up paying for themselves.
Reducing your current electricity use in any way. Consciously remember to turn off your lights and unplug your cords.
Invest in carbon sequestration! Trees and plants absorb carbon in the atmosphere, and are a natural way to remove carbon emissions from the air!
Drive less. Taking public transportation, riding a bike, and carpooling are all great ways to decrease your carbon emissions.
Eat less meat. Even if it is only one day a week it can make a huge impact as red meat can have up to 100x the environmental impact of plant based food.
Additionally, eating locally grown and produced food is a great way to cut down on transport emissions. For instance, if you are eating produce from thousands of miles away, it has a larger carbon footprint due to the amount of gas that was used to get it there. Comparatively, if you're buying from a local farmstand, there is a lot less distance traveled.
Use more reusable items and less single use plastic! Use reusable or compostable dishes rather than single use plastic materials, and if you have to use single use plastic, recycle everything you can and follow your local recycling guidelines!
Finally, try to steer clear of fast fashion by investing in quality pieces or buying second hand clothes in order to decrease emissions from producing.
Being sustainable is going to look different for everyone around the world. We all have different resources, but every bit of effort counts. Our earth needs us to demand more from our governments and invest in our future!
By: Alexa Storzinger and Sophie Stowe