A Bedouin man rises with the Sun in the Sahara Desert, Morocco. April 14, 2015 (Photo by Jamie McCaffrey) Creative Commons license via Flickr.
WASHINGTON, DC, April 25, 2019 (Maximpact.com News) – Earth Day is no longer just one day, April 22. Its spilling over into a week of actions worldwide pressing for respect of the Earth; it has even begun to fill the entire month of April. This year is the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, and the whole Earth Day network is working up to a crescendo of activity for the 50th anniversary in 2020.
Forty-nine years ago, “On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development,” Earth Day President Kathleen Rogers reminds us.
“Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than one billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world,” Rogers says.
This year’s Earth Day theme is taking action to protect species, many of which are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. Even the mighty lion is now listed as Vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
Writing on the Earth Day blog, Mari Margil of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund expresses her concern that human actions “are ripping holes in the very fabric of life.”
“Today, we know that species extinction rates are occurring 1,000 times faster than natural background rates, which prompted the United Nations to warn that a sixth mass species extinction is in the cards,” writes Margil.
“Indeed, as the Earth Day Network explains in its Protect our Species campaign, the theme of this year’s Earth Day, “If we do not act now, extinction may be humanity’s most enduring legacy.”
“Our actions are ripping holes in the very fabric of life. This will only change with a fundamental shift in humankind’s relationship with the natural world. Fortunately, that shift is beginning to happen,” Margil says.
Today, a new movement is building that is transforming how the law treats nature, from being considered an item of property or commerce, to being recognized with legal rights of its own.
This movement to secure legal rights of nature means, for the first time, acknowledges that nature has the right to exist, the right to thrive, the right to regenerate, evolve, and be restored. And, importantly, that nature can defend and enforce these rights against threats.
The rights of nature were first secured in law in communities in the United States, beginning in 2006. Two years later, Ecuador became the first country to enshrine the rights of nature in its national constitution.
Today, there are rights of nature laws and court decisions to back them in India, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, and other countries. Tribal nations have enacted such laws, and more than three dozen communities across the United States also have done so.
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators cross the Waterloo Bridge over the River Thames in London, UK, April 20, 2019 (Photo by Martin Hearn) Creative Commons license via Flickr.
The Extinction Rebellion
All living creatures will eventually go extinct if the climate crisis is not solved, the newly formed group Extinction Rebellion proclaimed to the world by protest actions, performances and die-ins around the world, starting April 15.
Earth Day, April 22, was the eighth day of Extinction Rebellion’s movement calling for political action in the United Kingdom to reverse global warming and stop species extinction. Activists blocked major London thoroughfares from Monday, April 15, and more than 1,000 people were arrested over the Easter weekend as they were cleared from three key areas of London by police.
In the six or seven months of their existence, the Extinction Rebellion has spread from London to 35 countries and has been organizing for this week of international civil disobedience. Here are just a few of those actions.
In Los Angeles on Earth Day, a couple of activists from Extinction Rebellion LA took the Protect our Species message to Universal Studios Hollywood. The protesters marked Earth Day by climbing the famous globe outside Universal Studios building.
The activists glued themselves to the globe and began waving green flags with their logo. Fire crews and police responded to separate the protesters from the sculpture.
On April 15 in Austin, Texas, three activists were arrested and held overnight for supergluing themselves to the front doors of JP Morgan Chase Bank, the largest investor in fossil fuels in the world, shutting the bank down.
In Paris, rebels blockaded the flagship H&M store, tipping tons of discarded H&M clothing outside the entrance. They also blockaded the Ministry of Agriculture and Ecological Transition at La Defense, as well as energy companies Total and EDF, and the French multinational investment bank Societe Generale.
In Oslo, Norway, rebels staged a funeral procession to the Norwegian Ministry of Finance. Demonstrators demanded that Norway halt plans to explore for oil in the Arctic and set an early date for the termination of oil and gas production.
In Washington, DC on April 16, eight people with Extinction Rebellion DC were arrested as they occupied the street in front of the Republican National Committee headquarters.
In New York City, on April 17 over 200 people gathered outside City Hall to demand urgent action on climate change and participated in mock citizen assemblies discussing solutions. Sixty-two people were arrested for closing the road and access to the Brooklyn Bridge with a human roadblock and die in. Two climbed nearby lampposts to drop banners saying “Declare Climate Emergency.”
In Madrid, Spain Extinction Rebellion activists blocked the headquarters of Spain’s top polluter, number 37 globally, the energy company Repsol, accompanied by a die-in and performance.
In Barcelona, Spain they created the Extinction Rebellion symbol out of activists and then marched to the main government square and read out the declaration, followed by a die-in.
A group of mountain climbers climbed the Pyrenees and unfurled a large banner atop a glacier of which only 35 percent remains compared to its size in the 1990s.
In Copenhagen, Denmark, activists held a “funeral for the future” march culminating in a peaceful sit-down protest outside the Danish Parliament.
In Adelaide, South Australia, rebels entered Parliament house while lawmakers were sitting and demanded the declaration of a climate emergency. They were forcibly removed by security, tut the story made the evening TV news.
“Protesters dropped “dead” in the middle of the busy streets of Sydney, Australia on Monday to highlight the dangers of catastrophic climate change.
Activists described this event as “a haunting and symbolic demonstration of what we will all face if we don’t drastically slash our carbon emissions in only 10 years: The ‘mass extinction’ of nearly all species on the planet – followed by the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, due to famine, water shortages, increased natural disasters, and ecological collapse.“
Extinction Rebellion die-in in front of New York City Hall. April 17, 2019 (Photo by Felton Davis) Creative Commons license via Flickr.
The Young Are Green
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom invited Sacramento children to the governor’s mansion for an Earth Day educational event featuring demonstration projects on climate-smart cultivation and healthy soils.
Earth Day Network coordinated an environmental volunteer cleanup across the United States, in collaboration with partners across the country, including National CleanUp Day and Keep America Beautiful. Many young people volunteered, and the entire cleanup was digital-friendly with mobile registration, digital mapping, social media, photo sharing, corporate volunteer engagement, and data collection on cleanup results.
Recology, San Francisco’s resource collection and recovery company, engaged local artist Sirron Norris to create a whimsical mural emphasizing recycling themes and lead an environmental workshop for local students. Kontent Films videoed the workshop and the unveiling of the Norris mural-wrapped recycling truck in front of City Hall.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, Youth 4 Climate Justice Now staged the 9th annual Earth Day Parade. Guest speakers, performers and booths made it a fun day of learning, celebrating the work in communities around climate justice and shaping a more sustainable world.
“It’s hard to take the first step towards making change, especially for youth, but this generation is the future and our choices will affect both us and generations to come, so we need to take action now if we still want a planet to live on,” says Rachel Chow, one of the parade organizers. “Throughout the years, society’s connection to nature has faded, but that connection will never disappear.”
“My whole life, I’ve been surrounded by both cities and nature and I can’t imagine a planet where that balance is broken,” said Chow. “I want to spread awareness about these problems because if our view on nature isn’t changed, I don’t even know if I’ll have a future to look forward to.”
Looking at Planet Earth Right Now
“Our magnificent planet is always ready for its close-up,” says the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA