Monday, April 22, 2013
Today more than one billion people will take part in the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day. Across the globe, individuals, communities, organizations, and governments will acknowledge the amazing planet we call home and take action to protect it. This year’s theme is “The Face of Climate Change.” The Earth Day Network plans to collect and display images of people, animals, and places directly affected or threatened by climate change – as well as images of people stepping up to do something about it. On and around Earth Day, an interactive digital display of all the images will be shown at thousands of events around the world. The display will also be made available online to anyone who wants to view or show it.
As one of the grandfathers of the environmental movement, Lester Brown is an original “face of climate change,” writing about population, food, and land issues in the early 1960s when he was at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Shortly after earning a degree in agricultural science from Rutgers University in 1955, he spent six months living in rural India where he became intimately familiar with the food/population issue. He then earned a master’s degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Maryland.
Lester’s most recent book Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity exposes the increasingly volatile food situation the world is facing. The newest challenge confronting farmers is climate change. The massive burning of fossil fuels is increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, raising the earth’s temperature and disrupting climate. It is now in a state of flux. Historically when there was an extreme weather event—an intense heat wave or a drought—we knew it was temporary and that things would likely be back to normal by the next harvest. Now there is no “norm” to return to, leaving farmers facing a future fraught with risk.
The environmental movement is making bigger waves than ever and although the faces may have changed, the message is still the same: we cannot continue with business as usual. As we say here at the Institute, pick an issue and get to work on it. Perhaps it is getting a world-class recycling center operating in your community. Or it might be writing and talking to political leaders about the need for a carbon tax. Our People in Action page gives some examples of what people have done. In the meantime, look for an Earth Day event near you!
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