What’s so good about Earth Day?

Timlynn Babitsky | Spaceship Earth | Monday, April 21st, 2008

by Timlynn Babitsky
Earth Day 2008 is a far cry from its launch in 1970. Then, Earth Day was a protest against corporate environmental misconduct and the stench of environmental pollution embraced as “the whiff of prosperity.” Today, Earth Day has become a marketing strategy to sell the ‘green’ side of everything from SUVs, to snack food, to 1-800-flowers.

On the one hand, Earth Day has helped environmentalists to successfully fight smog and contaminated waters. And, it has helped to raise environmental issues in peoples’ thinking. But lately this well-meaning once-a year celebration has become a flood of inadequate gestures – full of sound and fury but really accomplishing little.

The danger is we let ourselves be happy with gestures rather than substance,” says Hal Harvey, environment-program director for the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, a funding organization supporting environmental groups. (Click here for more on this issue.)

We bring our own canvas bags to pick up groceries but then drive back home in our SUVs, feeling that we’re doing our bit to help save the planet. We think that taking a significant stand is refusing to buy cat food in non-recycleable pouches. It’s like going to church for an hour on Sunday to atone for your sins in the rest of the week.

And, corporate marketing has jumped right on this “feel-good” bandwagon. Gas guzzler car companies fill your TV screen with clear skies and happy children to convince you that the corporation really CARES about the fate of the planet. Would you really feel better buying an SUV after seeing the hypocrisy of this car advertisement?

We all want to wear the green badge of courage yet do we do our homework to see where our actions can really make an impact? And time is definitely running out. We can no longer afford to just drop office paper into the recycle bin and pat ourselves on the back for saving the planet. The issues are way more pressing!

The fate of the planet, its species, water, air, plants, oceans and everything else are tottering on a fraying thread.

In “Let’s turn saviours this Earth Day” Jitendra Verma of The Times of India exhorts us to join together on a world wide basis to pressure Earth summit delegates to do much more than talk.

“…the people’s movement in all nations needs to become so strong that those biggies returning from Earth summits should be compelled to return with some concrete measures and not just charts for future action.”

And so, What ARE you doing for Earth Day 2008?

Will you refuse to be fooled by the green hype around you or lull yourself into thinking that by going to a rally somewhere today you’ve done all you need to for saving Mother Earth?

Or will you join with Jitendra to shout as loudly as possible:

“It is time that the Environment emerges from the loony fringe of five-year plan segmentation. It needs to be as important for lawmakers as issues of poverty alleviation and defence.”

Will you make a commitment today to join with others to pressure elected officials, corporate executives and Earth Summit delegates to aggressively work to help save our planet? Yes! You CAN make a difference without money, power, or influence. Grassroots organizing can be successful whether you work on a wind project, air quality issue, ocean dead zone problem, or saving Mother Earth.

Take a look at the Seventeen Steps to Success on this website and make a commitment to start today.

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