Another Earth Day – It’s Your Turn to Make a Difference

 

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Ramona Madhosingh-Hector, Urban Sustainability Agent, UF/IFAS Extension, Pinellas County

Earth Day, first celebrated on April 22 in 1970, provides an opportunity for concerned citizens to commit to environmental protection and recognize that poor environmental choices affect public health, safety and welfare. Now in its 44th year, Earth Day continues to provide the opportunity for global citizens to pay tribute to the world’s natural resources and pledge to make a difference. Without the earth’s natural resources, humans would struggle to fulfill basic biological needs – water, air, food.

In the 21st century, our built environment continues to expand as we strive to meet the needs of our global population of 7 billion people, many of whom are moving from rural areas into urban areas. Our major metropolitan areas are getting larger and the Global Health Observatory, an arm of the World Health Organization, reports that “for the first time ever, the majority of the world’s population lives in a city…by 2036, 6 out of every 10 people will live in a city, and by 2050, this proportion will increase to 7 out of 10 people.” This growing population requires energy, water, and materials as well as adequate transportation, food distribution and waste management. As natural resources dwindle, meeting these needs is a challenge and though technological advancements may prove useful, it’s still important to recognize that balancing population growth with environmentalism is an important issue.

Climate change is the 21st century’s greatest crisis and it has many faces. From relocation struggles due to rising sea levels in the Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean, to prolonged drought in Texas, farmers and families are faced with tough decisions. The challenges of the polar bear in the melting arctic, the right whale in the warming North Atlantic and the tiger in India’s threatened mangrove forest are reminders of the very real danger of damaged habitats caused by climate change. Community action, awareness campaigns, utilization of clean energy and the development of a green economy are important tools in addressing and facing this important issue.

Many of us may not consider ourselves environmentalists but consider this, if you’re concerned about the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat, you’re an environmentalist. This Earth Day renew your commitment and pledge to make a difference in the environment.

If you’re not sure how to start your environmental journey, join a local group like Tampa Bay Watch or the Sierra Club, or attend classes/events hosted by local colleges and universities like St. Petersburg College, Eckerd College, and University of South Florida.

Pinellas County Extension recently hosted the film, A Fierce Green Fire  which will be nationally broadcasted in honor of Earth Day on April 22 on PBS’ American Masters at 9 pm. This environmental journey will inspire you to become a Superhero for Earth!

Resources

EPA Earth Day

Earth Day Network

Earth Hour

EPA Citizen Action

United Nations Population Fund

Patel College of Global Sustainability