Northwest Horizons

Remember to celebrate Earth Day

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Remember to celebrate Earth Day

A picture of the natural beauty at Hanging Rock Park. Earth Day was created in the hopes of drawing attention to the destruction of nature.

A picture of the natural beauty at Hanging Rock Park. Earth Day was created in the hopes of drawing attention to the destruction of nature.

Christy Ma

A picture of the natural beauty at Hanging Rock Park. Earth Day was created in the hopes of drawing attention to the destruction of nature.

Christy Ma

Christy Ma

A picture of the natural beauty at Hanging Rock Park. Earth Day was created in the hopes of drawing attention to the destruction of nature.

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Earth Day–the often forgotten international holiday. It falls on April 22 every year and was started in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson in the hopes of bringing political attention to environmental issues and disasters. It does not promise heart-shaped candy, chocolate bunnies, scary costumes, giant turkeys or bags of presents like other holidays, but it still holds great importance.

“Greenery and nature tends to relax people,” AP environmental teacher Terry Murphy said. “(Nature) provides for the world.”

There is much joy to be derived from this shared world. From watching the hazy sunset glow atop silhouettes of plentiful trees to swimming in the lake among chittering birds, a lot of satisfaction is hidden in the natural beauty of Earth. However, the natural beauty of this planet is quickly deteriorating.

The lush, pristine and intact forests that once covered the world has been reduced to only 15 percent of its former land, mainly due to timber harvesting and agricultural demands, stated by the World Resources Institute. Between 2000 and 2016, the average loss of intact forest landscapes was 205 km2 per day.

While extinction is a natural process, the rate of which is much too quick for the regular cycle of Earth. The Center for Biological Diversity notes that while one to five extinctions per year is normal, estimated dozens are dying out per day–roughly 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate.

Fresh water, which in theory is a limitless resource, is being consumed in greater quantities than can be naturally replenished through the Earth’s filtration system. According to the National Groundwater Association, in 2010, the United States used 111.7 km3 of ground water, roughly 29 trillion gallons, and 71 percent went towards irrigation alone. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that 10,000 gallons a year is lost to leaks in American homes.

Our Earth is heating up at alarming rates; while some claim that warming is a natural process, human activity exacerbates it. If it is not controlled, some animals will be unable to adapt quickly enough to the new environment. NASA states that the Arctic sea ice is decreasing 12.8 percent every decade while the carbon dioxide emissions are at an all time high at 410 parts per million.

The Earth is in a vulnerable and damaged state. We need to act now.

“(Change) needs to start in the community,” Murphy said. “Smart building practices, providing green spaces, encouraging environmental building practices, (pushing) renewable resources and (other) small steps can help.”

Practices, such as recycling, are greatly beneficial, but they do are not the only thing that can be done. Reducing waste through reusable materials, such as washable tote bags and reusable bottles, can benefit the environment more than recycling as the recycling process still produces some unwanted byproducts.

“Companies (today) are making a profit off of environmentalism,” Murphy said. “Recycling is still about money. Planting a tree is easy and free, but recycling can make a company money. Those (money-making) initiatives were pushed to the forefront (even if) they aren’t the most effective solutions.”

Focusing on local community issues is more effective than worrying about environmental issues abroad as it can provide a tangible result easier. Plus, it gives an outlet for any anxieties about the state of the world.

“Start locally,” Murphy said. “The save-the-world idea is a big task. Take the message of Earth Day and (transform) it into a more community based (program). A kid in the United States (doesn’t have to) worry about the rainforests; their energy is better used towards worrying about the forest down their street.”

The situation of the environment is not futile, but it is urgent. The change must start with the younger generations so that a tradition of eco-consciousness can begin.

“My generation,” Murphy said, “your generation, we can all switching over to more sustainable practices little by little: gardening rooftops, renewable energy, encouraging smart growth. We won’t get the forests back, but hopefully we’ll get different forms of habitats forming that will lead to a more sustainable (interaction between) humans and nature. The following generations will know no difference–they’ll just think that’s what you do.”

The meaning of Earth Day is to address the current issues and appreciating the natural wonders that are standing strong today. It shouldn’t be left out or forgotten but rather celebrated every day through preservation and appreciation of our natural world.

“There’s so much stress in the world,” environmental club president senior Sarah Dawkins said. “We as a nation need a day, a reminder, that we all belong to (the) one Earth which gave us everything. We have grown so disrespectful towards the Earth and what it has offered us. I may not make much of a difference, but you can bet I’m going to give all that I have to give to help (save our Earth).”

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Remember to celebrate Earth Day