Covid pandemic dramatically challenged the world in the last two years and we realized, probably for the first time in our recent history, how vulnerable human beings are and how important it is taking care of our Mother Earth in order to survive and progress.
With many countries still affected by the virus, hopefully we start to realize that it is mandatory to take care of our environment and that we seriously need to raise awareness, now more than ever before, as celebrating the Earth Day, last April 22nd.
This celebration started more than fifty years ago, the first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970 in the USA. From an idea of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and activist Denis Hayes, it soon became a nationwide movement that inspired Americans to focus on the importance of a healthy environment. Millions of people across the USA participated in the original Earth Day festivities from the early beginning. A growing interest in environmental action led to the U.S. government creating the Environmental Protection Agency and passing sweeping laws like the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.
Nowadays worldwide communities, governments, ngo and businesses come together annually to celebrate Earth Day, using the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In this framework, the purpose is promoting economic development and social prosperity while protecting the planet. Institutions, public and private sectors, and everyone personally is called to do their part in order to protect air quality and mitigate the impacts of climate change by making clean energy choices, enjoying outdoor activities, and preserving the environment for current and future generations.
How are things going on? What’s the news? What’s next? Let’s talk about it with Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Organization.
Ms. Rogers, it is climate change.
“The world is facing a host of pressing problems at present. Economic inequality, the threat of nuclear war, and the crisis in democratic institutions have topped the agenda in recent years. But one of the most pressing — and underestimated — global threats is climate change. The combination of rising temperatures, decreased rainfall, and a host of other environmental ills is already causing great suffering, and could bring further turmoil to the world if left unchecked.
Climate change affects our society through its impact on social, cultural and natural resources. It can affect human health, infrastructure and transportation systems, as well as energy, food and water supplies. The changing climate will also have an impact on global conflicts as people fight for resources. Economies will become stressed due to the damage that climate change will do to our agricultural output worldwide.
Climate change isn’t just a future threat; it’s happening now, and the changes we’re already seeing will only get worse. The good news is that we can take action to slow climate change and adapt to its effects”.
How global conflicts and migrations are affected by climate change?
“Climate change is contributing to increased global conflict by providing a human security risk, water insecurity and a driver for migration. Climate change is aggravating conflicts, in part because of the way it is exacerbating water and food crises. The risk of conflict is most pronounced in arid and semi-arid regions, which are already prone to instability, but will also affect more temperate regions. The climate crisis is already contributing to displacement of people and is likely to increase the pace and severity of migration in the future.
The war in Syria and the refugee crisis in Europe are examples of how global conflicts and climate change can be related to each other. The conflict in Syria was started when the country experienced its worst drought in history. Drought is one of the most common effects of climate change and it causes a lot of problems for people all over the world”.
Why in 2022 was chosen the theme together we must “Invest In Our Planet”?
“The theme for Earth Day 2022 is ‘Invest In Our Planet’. Earth Day 2022 is focused on accelerating solutions to combat our greatest threat, climate change, and to activate everyone – governments, citizens, and businesses – to do their part.
Our aim is to engage the more than 1 billion people, governments, institutions, and businesses who participate in Earth Day to recognize our collective responsibility and to help accelerate the transition to an equitable, prosperous green economy for all. The goal of EDO’s campaign is to push aside the barriers erected by the ancient, dirty fossil fuel economy and their co-conspirators – old technologies of centuries past – and redirect attention to creating a 21st century economy that brings back the health of our planet, protects our species, and provides opportunities for all”.
What’s the real challenge after more than fifty years of celebration?
“Earth Day is an environmental awareness campaign that began in the U.S. in 1970 and is now celebrated in more than 193 countries every year. It’s a time for people to reflect on the fragile nature of our planet and the forces that threaten its existence - but also to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished so far.
The challenges we still face are due to the fact that pressing issues like climate change and plastic pollution remain unsolved. The window to keep the planet from warming beyond a point where serious events from wildfires and droughts to once in a generation weather events become normal is closing. We are not moving fast enough despite the efforts of the UN and world leaders”.
How can social media and online press help the cause?
“Climate change is a serious issue, and one that can’t be addressed by traditional means. But there are ways to take action even if you can’t leave the country: you can fight climate change from home, using social media. Facebook and Twitter have become powerful tools for spreading news about climate change and organizing people to take action. The best way to take action on social media is to make a comment or share a message about the issue.
Social media is the most powerful global communication tool in history and has the ability to reach billions of people. This is a tool we can use to raise awareness about climate change, to show what’s happening around the world, and to encourage people to make small changes that can have a big impact. The same is true with digital publications as we no longer have to rely on printing presses to disseminate information to a large audience.
Might you tell us the role of education for concrete sustainable development, and what's climate literacy for you?
“There is a growing body of research that shows how climate literacy can help individuals and communities make more informed decisions about the environment. But this research also highlights the importance of climate literacy in other aspects of sustainable development, such as addressing the root causes of climate change, increasing resilience to its impacts, and achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
The goal of sustainable development is to end poverty and improve living standards for the world’s poor without degrading the environment. To achieve this goal, we need to understand how climate works and how human activities influence it. This understanding, in turn, requires an understanding of climate science. Climate literacy is the ability to understand the context and science of climate change, and to communicate this knowledge to others.
We must build a climate literacy movement that empowers people to understand the climate crisis and its potential solutions, and to act on that knowledge in their everyday lives. This movement must include developing a deeper understanding of the climate system, and the critical role of human action and inaction in shaping its future. It must also include the understanding of our historical contributions to the climate crisis, and the steps we can take to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. This movement will only succeed if it brings people together, regardless of their race, economic status, or educational attainment”.