Earth Day 2015 might just be the most important one ever
Radical hope comes to mind for me when spring arrives and life resurrects itself. How amazing is it that, against all odds, green shoots peek out and baby animals appear? What beauty there is in an Appalachian spring!
April 22 is the date we’ve officially celebrated Earth Day since 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded a national day of observance, a day for “teach-ins” to bring attention to rising environmental issues.
He chose the birthdate of Sierra Club founder John Muir, the eccentric wandering naturalist and eloquent spokesman for wilderness preservation. Conveniently, Muir had a spring birthday.
Muir said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” That is such a profound statement! As humans we are inextricably connected to Earth’s ecosystems and processes. We cannot survive without that interconnected web of existence.
And yet, we push the envelope.
If we wish to continue our species on a resource-constrained planet, we cannot continue to crowd other animals and plants out of the way through human overpopulation and destruction of habitat. We cannot keep burning fossil fuels and splitting atoms for energy while poisoning air, water, and soil. We cannot preserve an economy based on ever-increasing, waste-filled product consumption.
It’s a time of change. Many have been in denial, but it’s slowly dawning on us that Earth is a giant ecosystem and that we are the ones who can imagine a meaningful future where our species coexists on a sustainable planet.
As climate disruption continues, we can assume our moral responsibility as rigorous protectors of life in all its forms. Both our mortality and planet mortality are at stake. It’s a matter of justice for all.
Last September, the People’s Climate Justice March drew around 400,000 people to New York City. In solidarity, marchers coalesced from all walks of life, including some Chattanoogans, carried ribbons and walked two miles to emphasize their Global Call for Action.
At the start, there was a minute of silence to honor those impacted by climate change and the fossil fuel industry. At the end of the march, there was a huge art piece symbolizing the tree of life with “branches” spreading out over the streets. Each marcher wrote on a ribbon what he or she stood to lose due to climate chaos and then tied it to the tree or exchanged it with a fellow marcher.
These are symbolic gestures, of course, but the Climate Ribbon arts ritual continues. In cities around the world, individuals are hanging ribbons and then holding events where one chooses a ribbon for wrist tying to wear as a reminder to reflect on what can be lost to climate chaos. (theclimateribbon.org)
Another initiative that grew from the People’s Climate March is Commit2Respond (commit2respond.org) encouraging people of faith and conscience to take action for climate justice. There is information about congregational and individual actions plus worship service materials as well as daily reflections during this Climate Justice Month.
It asks for commitment: What action would you take of your own to shift to a low-carbon future? How would you take action to advance human rights of communities affected by climate change? Could you participate in a local climate awareness activity or commit to supporting an educational or grassroots advocacy activity in your community? There are many other useful websites if one just Googles them.
As Earth Day 2015 approaches, take some time to s-l-o-w-l-y walk in nature. Pause and appreciate our beautiful support system. Really, when it comes right down to it, every day is Earth Day. What would your ribbon say?