Make Every Day Earth Day
As another Earth Month comes and goes, let’s talk about what ‘make every day Earth Day’ really means. This is a sentence and a sentiment that gets thrown about each April, but is it something that we are truly taking to heart?
I think a lot of people are finding ways of celebrating and respecting our planet on a daily basis on both large and small scales. And this is important – but is it enough?
With the recent release of the IPCC’s report on climate change, and President Biden’s approval of the Willow project, things may be feeling a bit hopeless. It is immensely clear that we are living in a critical time and are experiencing a climate crisis.
First I’d like to provide some highlights (insights and solutions) extracted from the 8000 page report by the IPCC, released on March 20th, 2023. These notes are summarizations — please see the report for more details.
IPCC Report Highlights
-Human activity is accelerating global temperatures at an unprecedented rate (currently 1.1 degrees C or 2 degrees F). This rapid rise in temperature is contributing to extreme weather, oceanic desalination and rising sea levels.
-Many areas of the world have been experiencing the devastating effects of rising temperatures and sea levels for the last few decades, and now, previously low-affected areas are seeing weather/climate anomalies like never before.
-If temperatures reach between 2 degrees C and 3 degrees C we will have reached a tipping point that will likely cause sea levels to rise by several meters.
-Mass extinction events, drought/water stress, heat stress and weather disasters will begin to accelerate as the global temperatures continue to rise.
-The IPCC report finds that there is over a 50% chance that global temperature will rise above the current 1.5 degrees C between 2021 and 2040 – we are already within this timeframe.
-We have already reached a tipping point with some climate impact. For example, coastal communities have seen coral reef deaths that directly impact livelihoods and local economies, as well as full areas having to move inland or build villages on stilts attempting to adapt to rising sea levels. These issues may not be reversible in the scope of human adaptation.
IPCC Outlined Solutions
-Lowering global GHG emissions in the near future is imperative to slowing this rapid and inevitable rise in temperature. Countries and governments have pledged to achieve various reduction goals, but even if these goals are reached, which so far everyone is off-track, it will only account for an overall 7% reduction, when the required pathway outlines a necessary 43% reduction to maintain our current 1.5 degree C rise.
-Burning fossil fuels is the number one cause of global temperature rise and our climate crisis. Therefore limiting and rapidly phasing out fossil fuel emissions is crucial. Global economic dependencies and emissions from current and planned fossil fuel infrastructure will take us way off track towards reaching the necessary reductions.
It will require strategies that retire existing fossil fuel infrastructure, cancellation of new projects and carbon capture, storage and removal technologies.
-Governments must begin to include adaptation plans into climate policies. Some of the devastating effects of the climate crisis will be inevitable – we must prepare.
-Renewable energy solutions must become widespread and available. We have to scale these infrastructures to fit our global industries and population.
-Personal and public finances must be redirected to climate solution technologies and adaptation. To reach necessary global climate crisis mitigation goals, climate finance will need to increase 3-6 times by 2030.
-All of these solutions must take into account potential impacts to social and economic inequities. Proposed and necessary measures, if enacted without this consideration, will likely increase inequities many communities are already experiencing.
As you can see from this tiny snapshot, we have a lot to tackle as a society. And it can be very difficult to know what to do since the majority of us aren’t in positions that provide us with a lot of influence. So here are my thoughts.
Do everything you can. I don’t live a 100% zero waste life, but I know that I’m doing my best every day with large and small decisions that lower my personal impact on climate change. Making changes to our consumption, food waste prevention, dietary and transportation habits are great places to focus, and our community is full of amazing resources to help. Implementing adaptation strategies in your own life, like learning to grow your own food or patching clothing, will be important as we navigate the future. It is through a combination of practices from previous generations and technological innovation that we will achieve impactful climate action.
Support local, national and international climate action. Living in a coastal community, we are experiencing the effects of oceanic pollution on a very personal level. Join organizations, make phone calls and don’t stop using your voice. For local governments, here are some action items from the EPA. I am constantly inspired by the businesses and organizations dedicated to climate action in our community – so keep supporting the sustainable choices.
Use your resources. We all experience various levels of economic ebbs and flows. Support climate action with whatever resources you have available. Sometimes, this means making changes to your personal habits like choosing to refill/reuse and switching to an EV or solar panels and sometimes this can mean funding local and international conservation and renewable energy projects. The important thing is that we do everything we can.
Take care of yourself and your community. I find myself and our amazing community attempting to work tirelessly to inspire change. But I know that sometimes we can forget to take care of our own mental and physical health when fighting this important fight. So remember that our work will always be more impactful when we take the time to recharge our batteries…with renewable energy, of course.
So getting back to ‘make every day Earth Day’. To me, this sentence means not saving the activism for one month of the year and making a daily choice to do my best for our planet and fellow beings. Share with us the ways you make every day Earth Day by filling out our google form – we’d love to share your tips with the SIS community.
Happy Earth Month — I’ll see you out there!
Liz Murphy, SIS co-founder