By Diana French –
On April 22, Earth Day will be celebrated by groups and individuals all around the world.
Williams Lake will mark the event with a rally sponsored by Cariboo Chilcotin for Planet Earth at Herb Gardner Park starting at 10:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome to attend. There are plenty of issues to rally around.
Cariboo-Chilcotin for Planet Earth started as a Facebook group in November, after the release of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) October report. The group helps local people connect and work together on global warming and other environmental issues at the grassroots level.
Protect Our Species is the theme for this year’s Earth Day. Participants will call for a concentrated effort to raise awareness about the threats to Earth’s millions of species (including humans) and the causes behind the threats. Almost 500 species have died off in the last 100 years (the natural rate is two every century), and the endangered list keeps growing. While climate change is certainly a factor in the loss, human actions take a heavy toll on the beasts, birds, bugs, and plants that live in our forest, grassland, and water ecosystems. Here in the Cariboo, forest fires have had a devastating impact on the environment, but human activity—forestry practices, habitat loss, the use of herbicides and pesticides, etc.—is a major culprit in upsetting the balance of nature.
The declining caribou herds in the interior and the endangered killer whales at the coast are high profile concerns, but few know or care about the small-mouth salamander, which also plays a role in the nature game. As Rachel Carson said in 1969, In Nature, nothing exists alone.
Earth Day dates back to 1969. Gaylord Nelson, a Senator from Wisconsin, came up with the idea of having a special day to call attention to the state of the world after seeing the damage done by a huge oil spill off the California coast. He thought if people were better informed about air and water pollution, they could convince the government to do something to control it. He recruited some like-minded acquaintances and within a year they had the many diverse environmental groups in the country working together. On April 22, 1970, some 20 million Americans celebrated the first Earth Day with coast-to-coast rallies that called attention to human-made threats to the environment. They caught the federal government’s attention, and by year’s end the government had created the US Environmental Protection Agency and had passed the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.
The network continued to grow, and today Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by over a billion people who let the world powers know they want action on global warming and clean energy. Unfortunately, as the support for Earth Day grew, so did the environmental issues, and the fight for a clean Earth continues.
The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has gotten wide-spread attention. Prepared by the world’s leading scientists, it is the most up-to-date and comprehensive explanation of the science of climate change and the future of Earth. The alarming report was delivered to governments, policy-makers, and individuals in Korea in October 2018.
The researchers found the Earth is warming faster than previously predicted and there is little time left (about 12 years) for remedial action. The report has no easy answers, but it gives governments information they need to make decisions for the future.
The report has caused quite a stir, but so far there has been more talk than action. Some governments and many individuals pooh-pooh the findings. Others believe it’s better to be safe than sorry and are taking preventative measures to slow global warming.
Back in 1969, Senator Nelson believed knowledge was the key to environmental action. He thought that when people realized what was happening to the world they lived in, they would be insisting governments take appropriate measures to make things better, and as individuals they would do their part.
On Earth Day, 2019, the message is the same, but the need for the environment to be protected is greater than ever.
Diana is a freelance journalist and author. She has lived in the Cariboo-Chilcotin for many years, 49 of them in Williams Lake where she has been active in the community.
Peaceful Climate Change Rally on Earth Day,
April 22, 2019
Let yourself be heard and lend your voice to the growing movement around the world to help stop global warming. A peaceful climate change rally will be held on Earth Day at 10:30 a.m. at the Herb Gardner Park in Williams Lake, between the MLA office and City Hall.
There are solutions that can benefit every single one of us—we can choose to share a collective vision for the world that works in harmony with each other and the rest of the living planet. All levels of government must declare a climate emergency and swiftly take bold action to stop the global temperature from rising. Bring placards, and if you can, bring extras for others. Come as you are or with costumes or props, if you wish.
Support for this gathering is heartfully appreciated. Email CCPlanetEarth@gmail.com to get involved in this and other related initiatives for positive change. Visit the Cariboo-Chilcotin for Planet Earth group on Facebook to join other community members fighting for a better world.