Musings on Nature

In Honor of Earth Day, Register to Vote

Earth Day is coming.  It’s not till April 22nd, but  I’m thinking about it early, perhaps because it feels like spring is about a month ahead of schedule this year.  I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed breaking out my shorts and flip-flops, but the weather is making me nervous.  It’s only March, and it’s 79 degrees outside; the highs near Boston are supposed to be under 50 this time of year.  Is this nature screaming at us to pay attention that climate change is real, and it’s here?  The plants and wildlife seem to have caught on–the crocuses have been blooming for weeks, the daffodils have just opened their flowers, and the hummingbirds are headed north early.  The plants and animals have accepted that our climate is changing, and they are altering their behavior in response.  Why haven’t we?

Collectively, people are failing the planet.  We are causing drastic changes in the earth’s climate, and we know it.  We’ve measured it.  We’ve predicted it.  We even know how to prevent it from getting worse–but why haven’t we?  It comes down to political will.  Truly, we should blame our governments for failing to protect us from climate change.  And to be fair, we should really be blaming the governments of the countries responsible for the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions.  And to be even more fair, if we live in a democratic country, we should ultimately be holding the citizens–ourselves–most responsible.

If you habitually or suddenly feel responsible for climate change, what should you do about it?  Do all of the things you know you’re supposed to do.  Turn off electronics when you’re not using them, drive less, and think about what you buy and eat.  If you already do those things, keep up the good work.

But individual citizens of the United States are not going to save the world by turning off their lights when they leave the room, not so long as the government pretends climate change isn’t real, or maybe it isn’t a problem, or maybe it’s not our fault.  Or it’s just too expensive to do anything about.  We’ve let them make these arguments.  Don’t let them anymore.

If you plan to live past tomorrow, or if you have children, or a sense of justice, you should support policies that will curb climate change.  This is the single, most important thing you can do for the environment.   If you aren’t registered to vote, register in honor of Earth Day.  If you’re already registered, write a letter to your state or federal representatives, and tell them you support environmental policies.  Tell them that you care, and why you care, and that you’re paying attention.

Turn off the lights, and speak up.

Need more specific ideas about how to show that you care and you’re paying attention?  Participate in Earth Hour on March 31st, a program sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund.

Sign up for conservation newsletters or “action alerts” sponsored by environmental organizations.  This is a great way to keep up with the latest news and issues, and many of these sites sponsor online petitions that you can sign.   Here are a couple to start with:

The Sierra Club’s Action Center:

The World Wildlife Fund’s Action Center:


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