On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we must summon the courage to dream and find the resolve to strive to make those dreams a reality. It is easy to be overwhelmed with hopelessness. However, from within the womb of this dystopian nightmare, a lofty hope is emerging. An inclusive narrative is being born in which we are all called to be heroes.
We have achieved great things in recent decades. Poverty is at its lowest level in human history and global life expectancy is at its highest. We have shown that we can make a difference. We are burning less coal and reducing acid rain and we are eliminating CFCs and healing the ozone hole. Dangerous chemicals like DDT and glyphosate are banned in much of the world. Although glyphosate is still available in the U.S., cities across the country are banning it. This is due to the environmental activism of citizens. The same environmental activism contributed to the clean air act and the clean water act.
However, there is much that needs to be done and little time to do it. Extreme weather events and wildfires remind us of this urgency. Sea levels are rising threatening island states and coastal cities. Humans have wiped out 60 percent of the vertebrate animals on Earth in what can only be described as a
genocide against nature. The road to recovery starts with the acknowledgment of our interdependence with nature and understanding that what we do to the Earth we are doing to ourselves.
We do not have the time to wallow in despair, now is the time to rally and take charge of our future. We first need to confront our fears and acknowledge that there is hope even in the midst of a global plague. While the coronavirus highlights the economic and political weaknesses of our system, it also illustrates the speed and scale at which governments can respond.
Necessity is the mother of invention. We can remake our world because we must. We know what we have to do but it begins with realizing that we have the right to demand clean air, water, and soil, just as it is our right to demand a livable future. However, there is no going around the obstacles that block our way. This means we must confront authoritarian leaders who are trying to control the narrative to enrich themselves and serve their own political objectives.
The anti-science disinformation campaign from U.S. President Donald Trump has been an environmental nightmare. He and his administration have systematically eradicated a wide range of safeguards designed to protect Americans. His unique brand of fossil fuel-powered politics is at war with nature. At a time when the country needs responsible leadership, Trump continues to engage in the politics of hate and division. Trump’s failure to act on COVID-19 and his mishandling of the crisis illustrates how he makes bad situations painfully worse.
The way to a better world is through holding political leaders accountable. If we want a livable future we need political change. If we want clean air and water we have to stop relying on dirty energy. We all have different reasons to be part of the solution and millions of people all around the world are committed to change, but it starts with finding the courage to hope that we can make a difference.
An Earth Day Like No Other