Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day! Earth Day was created in 1970 to protest the negative impact of over 150 years of industrial development, which includes smog and other airborne pollution, as well as a decrease in biodiversity due to pesticide run-off and other pollutants. Earth Day is a day of political action and civic participation, and over 1 billion people in around 192 countries participate each year. People protest, march, sign petitions, plant trees, collect trash, and even meet with their public officials. This year’s Earth Day has been dedicated to ending plastic pollution. This post will detail what is currently negatively impacting our environment, and what you can do to help- both on Earth Day and in your day to day life.
What is Global Warming?
According to NASA, most scientists agree that the current climate change is caused by human expansion of the greenhouse effect. Life on earth depends on energy from the sun. The greenhouse gases in our atmosphere trap and reflect back a portion of this energy, and as a result the Earth is warmed to a temperature that can sustain life. Currently, human actions such as the burning off fossil fuels add additional greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This results in less energy from the sun escaping through the atmosphere. It is then reflected back to Earth, further warming the surface.
Why Should We Care?
There are many negative impacts to the increase of the greenhouse effect. These include, but are not limited to…
- Increased Ocean Levels
- This is one of the biggest worries of global warming. The added reflected heat melts large patches of glaciers, which not only robs animals like polar bears of their homes, but also increases the overall ocean levels. This, combined with the expansion of water as it gets warmer puts many costal areas at increased risk.
- There has been longer and more dangerous wildfire seasons than before. This is a result of hotter, drier climates in the American West due to climate change. The western wildfire season has increased from 5 months in 1970 to 7 months today.
- Tree Death
- Tens of millions of trees have died in the Rocky Mountains as a result of a triple-threat of wildfires, tree-killing insects, and dry spells/ drought.
- Disruptions to Food Supplies
- As a result of rising temperatures and the domino effect this puts in place (such as heat waves, heavier precipitation in some areas compared to more severe drought in others) that has repercussions on cattle, coffee, staple ground crops, and even your backyard garden.
- Dying Coral
- The coral reefs are rapidly dying. As surface temperatures rise, so do ocean temperatures. This increased heat along with the multiple chemicals being dumped into the ocean cause the death of multiple coral reefs and the biodiverse habitat they foster.
What Can You Do?
There are multiple things you can do to reduce your effect on climate change. Below we have listed a few steps you can take to make your life and the Earth a little bit greener.
- Power Your Home With Renewable Energy
- If you have the ability to choose your energy provider, try to find one who sources half their energy from eco-friendly, renewable resources such as solar or wind.
- Reduce Water Waste
- It takes a lot of energy to pump, heat, and treat your water. Try taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet as you brush your teeth, and try switching your appliances to those with a WaterSense label. The EPA estimates that if just one out of 100 American homes were outfitted with water saving appliances, the result could be 80,000 tons less of global warming pollution.
- Eat the Food You Buy
- Around 10% of US energy goes into growing, processing, and packaging the food you buy- of which over 40% ends up in landfills. Additionally, livestock are the most resource-intensive type of food to produce, so eating less meat will help contribute to the reduction of pollution as well.
- Try Living Waste-Free
- Living zero waste is a lofty goal, and for many it may seem out of reach. Instead, try implementing tips and tricks gradually to reduce your waste over-all. Own a refillable water bottle (and use it). Make your own coffee instead of buying 6$ lattes. Compost your food instead of wasting it (It doesn’t have to be that gross). Living zero-waste not only helps the environment, but also helps the economy and your health. Give it a try!
Events at MSUM
On Friday, April 20th, MSUM’s Sustainable Student Association is holding an Earth Day Festival! Weather permitting, the Festival will take place on the Campus Mall from 1 to 5 PM. There will be tie-dying, a trivia booth, and other campus organizations will have booths as well. Come and learn about different renewable resources, and play some yard games.