Every year I am overwhelmed as I begin to reflect on what this day represents, what it means to me, what I am going to do today to recognize the planet. As many of you may suspect, I am devoted advocate, environmentalist, naturalist, conservationist, geographer, “tree-hugger”, however you may choose to define me. But when this day rolls around, I find it difficult to place my sentiments.
For me, Earth Day doesn’t begin today and it doesn’t end tomorrow. My daily existence is committed to improving consciousness, seeking the truth, reducing my impact and employing important changes to my lifestyle, but most importantly — trying to inspire others to do the same. But I am frustrated with where we are.
Why do environmentalists still have to fight so hard to stop our own government and businesses from killing our wildlife, clear-cutting our forests, mining our mountains and poising the oceans, air, land and water we all rely on to survive?
At the same time, I am proud of the progress we have made. To me, Earth Day is an occasion to remind ourselves just how far we’ve come, but also how very far we still have yet to go. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels or feel powerless in the face of the daunting challenges ahead. Rather, we must take inspiration from the determination of our movement’s founding heroes – Gaylord Nelson, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold – and those who continue carrying the torch today.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who are in this fight every day. There are days of progress and hope and there are days so dark, you have little choice other than to go home and collapse into tears. Sometimes, the gravity of our situation can be a hard one to swallow, and I applaud you brave individuals for taking it down and charging ahead. Keep fighting the good fight – I’m right there with you.
Earthlings, we still stand to gain as much as we have to lose. Today, I at least hope we all can recognize that, and try to carry it with us always. Don’t just plant a tree today, and then wait until next year to plant another one.
Make Earth Day your every day.