Earth Day 2021

Earth Day 2021: Climate Impacts Everything

Although COVID halted travel and slowed down our manufacturing, climate change continued to fuel raging wildfires and an endless hurricane season. According to NIFC, in just California alone, 52,113 wildfires burned 8,889,297 acres in 2020. This is approximately 2.3 million more acres burned than the 10-year average and almost double the acreage burned in the 2019 season.

Climate change is real—and continues to impact everything around us, from our food to our health to our community.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2021, we are recognizing all the ways climate change impacts everything around us—highlighting a new issue each day.

Day 1: Climate + Justice

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. 

How Did the Environmental Justice Movement Arise?

The environmental justice movement was started by individuals, primarily people of color, who sought to address the inequity of environmental protection in their communities, dating back to 1968.

“The connections [between climate and racial justice] are inextricable. It’s a question of whether we choose to recognize that or not. The communities that are most impacted by racial injustice are the same communities that are most impacted by climate change and climate injustice. As we know, this is no accident or coincidence. It is part of the design of systems that were built on racism. So the solutions need to be built on anti-racism.” 

Yerina Mugica, Managing Director at NRDC, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program  

How do we combat Environmental Justice?

  • Litigation – Continue supporting organizations fighting in the courts! (Two organizations on the frontlines: NRDC + NAACP) 
  • Organize Boycotts – Before you shop, investigate the environmental practices of corporations, let your networks know why you’re avoiding certain retailers. 
  • Advocate for systematic change Things like community organizing, public education, mobilizing the base, and elevating voices.
  • Voting – Hold your representative accountable at the local, state, and federal levels. Use your voice to advocate for those impacted by Environmental Justice.

Day 2: Climate + Our Food

Climate change poses massive threats to farmers and our food system. As extreme weather and heat continues to affect food availability now and in the future, we must evaluate how we as a society are impacting the world around us.   

Our food system is responsible for about 1/4 of the planet-warming greenhouse gases that humans generate each year. The food we consume everyday is directing impacting climate change. 

How exactly does food contribute to global warming?

  1. When forests are cleared to make room for farms and livestock, large stores of carbon are released into the atmosphere, which heats up the planet. 
  2. When cows, sheep and goats digest their food, they burp up methane, another potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. 
  3. Animal manure and rice paddies are also big methane sources. 
  4. Fossil fuels are used to operate farm machinery, make fertilizer, and ship food around the globe, all of which generate emissions.
NYT - Food and Climate Change

Source: New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/30/dining/climate-change-food-eating-habits.html

Do I have to go vegan to help?

Nope! You can make better food decisions for the environment just by reducing the amount of red meat and dairy products you consume. 

Try swapping in chicken, pork, or eggs for red meat, or try consuming more soy, grain, or beans in your diet.

Quiz: See how your diet contributes to climate change.

Day 3: Climate + Our Health

Climate change isn’t just bad for the planet’s health—it’s bad for people’s too. From air pollution to warming temperatures to rising sea levels, climate affects everything around us. 

In a pandemic, everyone is at risk. But not everyone is at the same level of risk. Environmental racism is like a toxic cloud lingering over too many communities of color, making them more susceptible to COVID-19 by contributing to the same underlying health conditions that can catalyze its lethality.”

— Jeff Turrentine, Author at NRDC 

How does Climate Change affect transmission of disease?

As Earth warms and our climate changes, animals will look towards cooler areas, forcing them into new habitats. That means animals are coming into contact with other animals they normally wouldn’t, and that creates an opportunity for pathogens to get into new hosts. Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Health

Day 4: Climate + Our Future

Climate change is real—and it’s already impacting society. Yet, according to American Progress, 1/4 of the 117th Congress denies that climate change is real. This is unacceptable! We must act on climate before it’s too late. It’s time to fight for climate justice and action. 

What you can do to fight climate change:

  • Show up and Vote!
  • Support organizations fighting against climate change and safeguarding our planet. 
  • Advocate for those not being heard locally, regionally, and nationally by volunteering, showing up for climate strikes, and speaking with elected officials. 
  • Make environmentally conscious consumption decisions and curb your consumption wherever possible. 
  • Educate those around you. 
  • Hold businesses accountable—and boycott when they aren’t.