In the five decades since the last Earth Day, what have we gained and what have we lost? Will Earth Day 2070 be scorching hell or an epic celebration? It’s our Choice.
It’s a little over a week from Earth Day. Rewind 50 years-ish, 20 million Americans marched for the first ever Earth Day. And I’m wondering: in those five decades, what have we lost and what have we gained? I think corona is making that answer clearer. While the economy free falls, nature is coming back to life. The water and air around the world is clearing up. CO2 emissions have declined (albeit not as much as one would expect). Oil, with so little demand, has not been able to keep up with supply and recently plunged in value to an unprecedented below zero (good news for the climate — and us). Corona has reverse-revealed that damage to the environment is a consequence of the current system we live within. What I mean is quite simple. When the economic wheel is pedaled, oil and other fossil fuels are burned, CO2 emissions increase, and climate change worsens. Degradation in other areas such as air and water pollution and deforestation also progress. We are learning that in the 50 years since the first Earth Day, sadly, we have failed to create a new system that does not implicate environmental deterioration. Of course, good things are happening, too. The youth are rising. In the financial world, there is ever stronger emphasis on ESG and impact investing. Progressive states and other governments are passing new, sustainability focused policies. Forward-thinking brands and corporations are shifting their behavior. NGOs are becoming more effective. But we’re still terribly far from redesigning the system at the scale required. So I wonder: what might Earth Day look like in 50 years time? During the next half century, we don’t have the choice to fail in system change . If we continue with business as usual, the environment — obviously — and ourselves — that’s me and you — will suffer at scales unseen in the 50 years leading up to now. If ocean temperatures continue to rise at the rate they are now, 90% of the corals could be dead — which, by the way, would mean the death of the oceans. Summers over 40C (104F) would be customary in places like Tokyo, Paris, or New York. I don’t even want to imagine how big the storms would be then. Oh, and forget about saving the beautiful, lush rainforests — consider them functionally extinct. If we continue on this road, on the 100th Earth Day we won’t have anything to celebrate. In 2070 I’ll be 78. I would hate to flip my calendar to April 22nd in a world I’ve painted above. Wouldn’t you? The World Economic forum ranks ‘the failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change’ the largest risk facing humankind. ‘Loss of biodiversity’ ranks 5th. And by the way, all top five risks are environment related. We’re living in a crisis. This chaos caused by the corona, certainly is very confusing. Countries around the world are seeing unemployment rates rocket up. I’m personally afraid to get too near to another human, and I’m often swept in anxiety by the imposing uncertainty of the future. I, like you, don’t know anything about what the future of corona holds. What I do know, however, based on the most recent scientific knowledge, is that if things don’t change, the environmental crisis will inflict damage far greater in scale than what we can imagine, and far more devastating than the corona. And so I have a final question: What are we going to do? Change in consciousness, action and system — we need it all! Whatever it is, we — you and I — need to take action. Let’s join forces, and make a difference. We are living in an era that requires behavioral and systemic change in all areas, in all directions, right now. And let’s dump this notion that one day of the year is Earth Day. Every single day we live on this planet is Earth Day. This magical rock takes care of every single one of us, every single day. So let’s start giving back. Let’s turn things around and set ourselves up for one hell of a celebration on April 22nd, 2070!
Hello! And thank you for reading my blog. My name is Ian. I’m the founder of a for-impact organization called weMORI. At weMORI, we’re building a smartphone app that puts the power to protect and restore forests in your hands. Supporting projects that protect and restore forests is the best thing we can do as individuals to address climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. weMORI enables you to do exactly that with just a few taps on a screen. Our goal is to use the platform to create a global movement of forest action. For more, please visit our website HERE and sign up to the weMORI team! It would make myself, the staff and the volunteers hard at work, really happy if you did. Thanks, Ian