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This year marks the 52nd annual Earth Day! There have been significant victories since the first one in 1970 but we need to keep fighting to create a healthy planet.
As humans we know that we cannot function properly when we have a flu or only consume junk food and a business does not succeed if it is not planning for their future. And yet, we accept that our economy behaves in this nature.
We need to manage the amount of junk and toxins we produce or we are working under a sickening body and planet. Businesses plan for the future but demand immediate results no matter the cost to other people or the impact on the environment.
The theme for Earth Day 2022 is “Invest In Our Planet” and that is a fantastic way to think of it. We need to incentive businesses to plan for the future without taking away their ability to be successful.
It is unrealistic to expect all environmentally harmful industries to disappear overnight but we can to steer them in a direction that is beneficial to them and the planet.
A Renewable Economy
A future green economy is only possible if we can accept that at our current economy is more dependent on the fossil fuel industry than renewable energy. That means there are a lot of jobs and people who depend on it. We should not blame the coal miner for working in the mine if that is the most profitable job around. He has a family to support and bills to pay.
However, we are starting to see the benefits of a green economy as we witness visionary companies and governments make the first steps.
Iceland runs entirely on renewable energy. Roughly, 75% of their electricity comes from hydropower and 25% from geothermal. They harness their volcanic activity to take advantage of their geography and environment.
We cannot all be Iceland, which does have volcanos and a small population, but clean energy jobs in the United States already provide 25% higher earnings than the national median wage. It is actually outpacing fossil fuel extraction / generation jobs by three-to-one.
Meanwhile, globally the fossil fuel industry benefits from $11 million every single second and over $5.9 trillion annually in subsidies. We have to ask why we are investing in an industry that harms us.
While you could argue that same defense, that it is a lot of jobs tied into this industry, we should not underestimate the growth of clean energy recently.
Clean energy employs more Americans than middle or elementary school teachers, bankers, or farmers. If we continue to invest the same support and determination, then we could see a greener future.
A study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports that it would require roughly 22,000 square miles of solar panel-filled land to power the entire country. That means that a space the size of Lake Michigan could power all 141 million households and businesses.
That still might sound like a lot of space but if you break them into multiple farms and nation-wide distribution it does not become as significant.
Along with renewable energy, this industry would create a tremendous amount of jobs and would simply be an upgraded version of the fossil fuel industry. People who worked in mines could work with hydro plants, windmill farms or solar panels.
This is not only possible, it is needed. Henry Thoreau once said, “what use is a house if you don’t have a tolerable planet to put it on.”
How You Can Help
Beginning your journey towards a greener future can seem overwhelming and too big to start but we are here to provide some simple ways for each of us to help.
Earthday.org has come up with 52 Ways To Invest In Our Planet with ideas like: practice sustainable fashion to alleviate landfills, buy local foods to reduce your food’s carbon footprint, grow an organic garden or support organic practices, turn off lights when you leave a room to cut down on energy generation.
These are simple tips that we can practice every day and can slowly make a significant impact. Although it is always important to elect and communicate with our local representatives and government, we can also make an enormous difference with where we spend our money.
By supporting companies that have green policies we can use our most powerful tool, money. Deciding where to spend your money is one of the best ways to demonstrate your voice and encourage companies that take active steps to protect our planet.
While it might seem abstract to fight for the health of our planet, we need to remember that we are protecting ourselves by having a healthy planet. We need to leave our planet better than we found it or we will realize we took it for granted.
An old proverb says, “we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
For more examples of 52 ways to invest in our planet click here.
To visit Earth Day’s website, click here, and find other tools for making a difference.
By: Mathew Whitelaw