Keeping the COVID-19 pandemic in perspective is hard. Worldwide and in the United States, tens of thousands have been infected and thousands have died; the number of cases and deaths will likely continue to rise before the outbreak abates. While this is an immediate crisis affecting our lives and livelihood, this crisis will run its course.
There is another crisis, the climate crisis, that is more permanent, and likely, much more damaging to humanity’s longterm survival. This year, April 22 marked the 50th anniversary of the first “Earth Day.” Looking back across a half-century of environmental activism, there is a critically important difference between this year’s Earth Day and the one in 1970.
That first Earth Day brought together people with a range of local environmental concerns: from roadside litter, to oil spills from coastal drilling, to factories and cars belching air pollution, to rivers and lakes so polluted they caught fire.
In 2020, however, the greatest concern isn’t about local problems. Instead, the ongoing climate crisis, as evidenced by increasing sea levels, melting glaciers, dying coral reefs, ocean acidification, increasing frequency and intensity of forest fires, and more frequent and severe droughts, heat waves, and floods, is a global issue that captures our attention and demands our action.
Advocating for regional and national policy changes that lessen society’s contribution to the climate crisis are even more critical now than our personal efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
One important way to advocate for change is by contacting business leaders and elected representatives to express your concerns. Ask them to implement changes such as reducing pollution, increasing energy efficiency, enacting a carbon tax, and promoting renewable energy. Working together to promote the health of our shared home is the greatest legacy we can leave for future generations.
Larry Reisinger (author)
Judith Ann Schaeffer O.S.F.
Dorothy Schlaeger O.S.F.
Carmela Trujillo O.S.F.
Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, Colorado Springs.