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Earth Day, April 22, 2008

April 22, 2008

This week’s section15.ca feature is about Vandana Shiva. We feel that her insight, energy and dedication are good things to celebrate this week.

Today is Earth Day. It’s worth revisiting how this day began.

Like Vandana Shiva, the people who rallied for the earth in 1969 believed that, together, maybe we can change the world.

At a conference in Seattle in September 1969, I announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and invited everyone to participate. The wire services carried the story from coast to coast. The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air – and they did so with spectacular exuberance.

— Gaylord Nelson, 1916–2005, former United States senator and founder of Earth Day

Earth Day is now international in scope. Globally, a big part of what we urgently need to deal with is how we use energy. According to David Hughes of the Geological Survey of Canada:

  • global energy consumption has nearly tripled in the past four decades
  • the so-called “developed” world accounts for 18% of the globe’s human population
  • this 18% consumes 54% of the world’s energy
  • Canadians consume five times more energy per capita than the world average
  • we consume more than nine times that of “developing” countries such as China
  • energy demand in the “developing” world is forecast by the Energy Information Administration to grow by 95% through 2030, when this region will account for 58% of a global energy demand
  • overall global energy demand is forecast to grow by 50% over this same period

The challenge can seem overwhelming. Which is why it’s helpful to remember the positive spirit that sparked the first Earth Day. And useful to remind ourselves that people like Vandana Shiva are urging us to remember who will pay the highest price if we don’t address the challenge of sustainability: women, children, local subsistence farmers, and the world’s poor.

According to the Weather Network, here are a few things we could do every day to make life on earth more pleasant:

  1. Reduce home energy use by installing a programmable thermostat or using ceiling fans over air-conditioning.
  2. Choose locally grown and organically produced food.
  3. Get involved with your neighborhood environmental organization. Go to earthday.ca for Earth Day events in your area.
  4. Choose to drive less – use public transportation or try walking or biking.
  5. Plant native species of trees, shrubs and plants to reduce your lawn cover and enhance the carbon absorbing capacity of the earth.
  6. Consider the environment when making purchases. Many consumer products – including cars and appliances – have an Energiude rating to help in making this decision.
  7. Try eating less meat – the production and processing of grains requires far less water and land than that of livestock.
  8. Be the catalyst in enhancing your company’s environmental commitment.
  9. Replace toxic chemical cleaners and pesticides with natural, non-toxic alternatives.
  10. Subscribe to renewable energy utilities, like Bullfrog Power which promotes the use of wind, solar and small scale hydro-electrical generation.
sources

Earth Day Canada, official website includes events, resources and links
Earth Day 2008, “April 22 is International Earth Day. More than 6 million Canadians join 500 million people in over 180 countries in staging events and projects to address local environmental issues.” Includes history, how to get involved, and ten ways to celebrate the earth every day, The Weather Network
How the First Earth Day Came About, by GAYLORD NELSON, founder of Earth Day, EnviroLink
Exposed: the great GM crops myth, Major new study shows that modified soya produces 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, by GEOFFREY LEAN, The Independent | April 20, 2008
Former U.N. boss Annan warns of ‘hunger disasters’, by STEPHANIE NEBEHAY, Reuters | April 22, 2008
Food for Thought on Earth Day, by ENRIQUE GILI, Inter Press Service | April 22, 2008
U.N. FAO: Biofuel may harm women in rural areas, Energy Current | April 22, 2008
The Energy Sustainability Dilemma: Powering the Future in a Finite World, by DAVID HUGHES, Geological Survey of Canada, The Parkland Institute | April, 2008

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