This morning the vegetation unfurled leaves and fronds to the warm spring sun in our local Cobb's Creek floodplain. Bumble bees buzzed and even a lone Mallard duck cruised one of the stream's wider sections. I let Katdog jump in the water for the first of many springtime splashes...Let's not tell my husband.
Although I subscribe to the sentiment behind: Earth Day is everyday; there is something special about our annual celebration of Mother Earth. I like to think of it as a day we're reminded yet again to renew our love for the natural world. That is why I generally find myself in our local woods on this day—even if it's raining or doing some other crazy weather thing. (It sleeted in Philadelphia just this past Monday.) And by the way, my alternative title for this day is poison ivy day. Weirdly in the Philadelphia region, I've noticed the poison ivy leaves open on Earth Day.
Anyway, when a good friend sent me the notice of yesterday’s climate symposium at the University of Pennsylvania, I cleared space on my calendar. It helped a lot that organizers provided a virtual attendance option—surely allowing them to reach a wider audience without needless usage of transportation energy. The Imagining a Resilient Future discussion yielded more information that it's possible to summarize in a single blog post, but it left me with two strong take-aways.
First, Thilmeeza Hussain, permanent representative of Maldives to the United Nations described how in her beautiful country, flood waters wash away housing and cropland repeatedly within a single year. This is their experience of climate change, and it's happening now.
Hussain spoke of how a budget in the billions of dollars is insufficient to cope with the loss and damage, and her plea was that the world's citizens pay attention to their plight and put pressure on our government representatives to put the brakes on carbon emissions. If we are unable to limit global warming to the 1.5 degree Celsius goal, which UN nations committed to in the Paris Agreement, small island nations will perish.
This is another reason why stepping up our advocacy efforts is one of the most important things we can do. Our elected representatives must know that they cannot win reelection without addressing carbon emissions in a meaningful way. Advocacy is key.
The second idea came from deep-ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau. He shared a quote from his famous oceanographer grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau: "People protect what they love, they love what they understand, and they understand what they are taught." As a teacher, this resonated. I found myself thinking about how I might incorporate more Earth love into my teaching.
My students responded beautifully yesterday with Protect my Nature Space posters that they used to explain what their natural spaces meant to them. In an age where many write off kids as only attached to their cell phones, their desire for cleaner and greener natural spaces came through beautifully.
So while Earth Day is a good day for advocacy, it's an even better day for love. How will you spread the love today? Please post your comments, I would so appreciate hearing your stories!