Climate Change and Earth Day

Happy Earth Day; in celebration of the occasion let us give praise to the strategies to combat climate change. You might say, "But wait, we always cover climate change strategies and solutions. How is this post any different?" Exactly, this post is not any different, there has always been a focus on solutions: and wind, wave , green buildings, biofuel. This post is not any different because every day is an Earth Day.

Earth Day celebrates the Earth; it's a pretty unusual idea. It's like picking a day and celebrating Water Day, or a Food Day, or an Air Day. We take these things -the earth we walk on, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breath- we take them for granted because we can (those of us wealthy enough to do so). But Earth Day is also a novelty, much like many things available to nations with disposable income. It is a reminder to those of us that ignore the environment to take a step back and smell the flowers; We get the opportunity to respect what can be easily taken away and to understand that many in developing nations (like India and China) are not as fortunate as wealthier nations.

Earth Day is an example of institutionalizing change; Earth day is meant to change the way people ignored the environment. Before the founding of Earth Day, in 1970 by U.S. Senator Nelson Gaylord, there was little institutionalized concern for the natural resources we so depend on. However, by establishing this day of reflection and action the sense of responsibility for the environment spread from just a few organizations to everyday citizens. We can see the results of this work all around us as hundreds of organizations and millions of people pledge to protect the environment. But there is a lot of floundering in climate change. No particular group is taking the needed leadership; there is no master strategy.

Many argue that there are two main strategies to solve climate change, bottom-up and top-down solutions. Top-down solutions are where the most powerful groups take the lead to enact changes in policy to handle climate change and to direct the bottom, more regular type of folks that are still involved. These groups are typically federal governments and large agencies that enact laws to curb the behavior of the many. The Bottom-up strategy is the opposite situation, where the more common person takes the lead and initiative to solve climate change. This strategy sees people making everyday decisions to support certain products or certain behaviors.

Things won't change for climate change unless both groups at the top and the bottom do everything they can. Companies need to make better decisions on the energy they consume, and consumers need to dialogue with these companies to hold them accountable. On this Earth Day many governments and companies showcased their support for the environment and dedication to combat change.

Photo Credit: Library of Congress