April 22nd is the 45th annual Earth Day (the 25th in Canada), and this year's theme is "It's Our Turn to Lead," meaning that nobody is going to make a difference for us: every one of us has a responsibility to take action on climate change. Things are moving fast and it's probably too late for some areas. For example, the US state of California has one year's worth of water left and at the rate that Nestle is extracting the precious substance from public sources and selling it in polluting plastic bottles, there might not even by that much....
Although much of the Earth Day action is focused on schools, encouraging children to get involved in their communities, there are activities for adults too. "Canada's Top Ten Actions" is a PDF available on the Earth Day website with fairly simple, even obvious, things we can do to use less energy and produce less waste. Things like setting the temperature in summer at 25 degrees celsius won't be popular, and suggesting that we clean our homes with water, vinegar, and baking soda assumes that we all have a lot of disposable time but walking, cycling, and using more public transport are certainly good ideas. The recommendation that we buy local, organic food and work and holiday "close to home" are lovely in theory but the economic reality for many Canadian families is that these really aren't feasible on a regular basis. We work where the jobs are and we buy the food we can afford.
In the business world, Forbes.com marked Earth Day with a list of the ten best Exchange Traded Funds fosucing on renewable resources. With growth of between 6 and 41%, these funds outperformed the S&P 500's growth of 2.6% to April 20th. Smart investments indeed!
Since 1965, we have consumed more of the earth's resources than in all of previous history combined, reports International Business Times, a startling statistic included in an otherwise upbeat article listing the usual things we can do to save the planet: buy local and organic, use fewer plastic bags, plant a tree....
The tree-planting project is everywhere. Earth Day on Facebook asks you to plant something, and then post a photo. The aim is to plant a billion trees and seeds. And BioCarbon Engineering has an ambitious plan to use drones for good and not evil: they will drop pre-germinated seeds from drones in areas where human tree-planters can't work. Better than using drones to drop bombs any day!
Perhaps the most interesting and useful Earth Day website is the Footprint Calculator. Use it to see how many planets would be needed if the whole world lived the same way you do, and how many global hectares of land are needed to feed you. Fascinating!
Celebrate Earth Day by eating your local, organic dinner by the light of non-toxic candles or LED lights. Happy Earth Day!