Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day, a day set aside both nationally and internationally to celebrate nature, the environment, and natural resources. Demonstrations and celebrations, both large and small, will take place globally, both as public statements and private actions. The theme for the 2017 Earth Day is Environmental and Climate Literacy, a campaign aimed at educating the global public about environment and climate by 2020. Today there will be a March for Science at the National Mall in Washington DC.
I, like many people in our communities, am not a climate or environmental advocate, expert, or scientist. I don’t think that’s a shameful thing to admit. I’m all for people sticking to what they know and having a surface level understanding of everything else. That said, while I really want people to respect me for what I know, I think we ought to respect other experts for what they know.
From what I see, from what I read, from what I hear, taking care of the environment isn’t a joke. I learned to take the environment seriously early in my life as I grew up very near to my family’s farm. The ground fed us, and by extension so did the livestock that also lived off the fruit of the land. Grandpa Droscha taught me that nature is beautiful and should be appreciated. My uncle showed me that different parts of the land are all necessary in their own ways, and my cousins taught me that diligent gardening feeds the family and the community. Our farming communities rely on a healthy environment to feed their families and stock the local farmers markets. A healthy environment also allows for greater enjoyment of our local parks.
I read from studies and reports like “Consensus on Consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming” from Environment Research Letters Vol. 11, and “Expert Credibility in Climate Change” from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol. 107, as well as other scientific sources, that climate scientists and experts are in general agreement that global climate change is a serious problem. Again, I’m not an expert.
What I do know is that I like my environment. I like our local parks, I like fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, I like fishing in clean Michigan lakes, and I like camping in preserved forests. For the first time in my life I have to take care of a yard, flowerbeds, and gardens almost entirely on my own, (it’s hard) but doing so has made me attentive to trash in my yard, or elsewhere in the community. For me, and many others, talking about keeping the environment safe isn’t strictly a political discussion. It’s a conversation about appreciating what we have and protecting it.
This Earth Day, opinions and grievances aside, take time to keep your environment clean and preserved. Pick up some trash and throw it away, plant a tree or some vegetables, and just appreciate the nature around you.