The first Earth Day in 1970 spurred great change. After twenty million concerned citizens came together to demand change, the results were rewarding and remarkable. Federal action followed, with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of several landmark laws that guide environmental policy to this day.
At one of our recent events, Dennis Hayes — the organizer for that very first Earth Day and our Board Chair Emeritus — spoke about Earth Day’s legacy (video clip). “A lot of things came out that first Earth Day and we mostly know about them: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Marine Animals Act…. There were about 15 pieces of important federal legislation in five years. And Richard Nixon, not exactly an environmental champion, set up the Environmental Protection Agency with an executive order — and made the decision to do it on the afternoon of Earth Day. So it’s a decent legacy….”
Yes, it IS a decent legacy — and it is one we must protect. Now is the time to mobilize and to take action. As we all know, Earth Day is every day. We have power here. We can take action in our personal lives. We can vote in every election and make sure we’re voting for candidates who are committed to protecting our environment with strong policies. (Not registered to vote? Do it now!) We can also make our voices heard on individual issues and frequently contact our Congressional representatives and Senators. See below for specific ways you can help protect life on Earth, today and every day.
The Issue: The Trump administration and EPA intends to roll back Clean Vehicle Standards in place to protect us.
What You Can Do: Join us in telling Trump we need to protect these standards and that we demand action to clean our air, lower emissions, and ensure a future that doesn’t depend on fossil fuel. More on how to lend your voice to this issue here.
The Issue: The EPA’s recently proposed rules to limit the use of scientific studies to influence policies. The public health is at risk from such a rule. We need the EPA to be guided by science and trusted data in making sure the public is protected. (The Atlantic story on the issue.)
What You Can Do: Take action by submitting a comment to the EPA during the open comment period (comments accepted through August 16, 2018). Also: contact your Congressional representative and ask for support in keeping the EPA accountable. We need to put pressure on the EPA to reject the proposed rules to limit the use of scientific studies to influence policies.
The Issue: The EPA is rolling back on The Clean Power Plan. Loosening emissions standards puts the public health at risk and takes us off course from moving towards a clean energy future. We need its administrator to take orders from the American people, not fossil fuel lobbyists. We need an EPA that understands that climate change is a crisis best met by embracing a clean energy future. (New York Times story on the issue.)
What You Can Do: Take action by contacting your Congressional representative and ask for support in keeping the EPA accountable with efforts to decrease emissions and improve air quality.
The Issue: The EPA isn’t taking enough action to protect our water. We know from the Flint water crisis that not enough has been doing in recent years. (The Washington Post story on the issue.)
What You Can Do: Take action by contacting your representative and demanding that the EPA take stronger actions to protect our water and the public health.
The Issue: The Trump Administration nominated a pesticide executive to be chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). (Huffington Post story on the issue.)
What You Can Do: Take action by contacting your Senator(s) and ask them to reject this nominee.
The Issue: The Department of the Interior is threatening our public lands, aiming to reduce the size of our national monuments. (Vox story on the issue.)
What You Can Do: Take action by contacting the Department of the Interior, urging them to protect our treasured public lands. We need to protect these natural, open spaces for generations to come.
The Issue: Plastic pollution is choking our oceans and threatening the public health.
What You Can Do: Help us end plastic pollution. Make a personal commitment to reduce your own plastic use and waste; start with our plastic calculator to track your waste and then reduce it. Collective actions add up to big impact. Find out more from our plastic primer and toolkit.
The Issue: The Department of the Interior is rolling back on the Endangered Species Act. (New York Times story on the subject).
What You Can Do: Demand the Endangered Species Act be protected during the open comment period (through September 24, 2018). Links and tips on how to send messages in our guide to helping to protect the Endangered Species Act .
The Issue: Pollinators are declining globally, threatening our global food supplies.
What You Can Do: Pledge to stop using pesticides. Support organic producers and companies/businesses that do not use or sell pesticides.
The Issue: Climate change is a global threat, with risks to our environment, coastal communities, food and water supplies, and the public health.
What You Can Do: Start by reducing your own global footprint. Use our carbon footprint calculator to see how much carbon emissions result from your lifestyle and make earth-friendly changes to reduce your ecological impact. Vote in every election for leaders committed to act on climate.
The Issue: Our urban areas need more trees and green space and urban tree coverage to sequester carbon, produce shade to protect us from extreme heat, improve urban quality of life, reduce energy needed to cool buildings and provide habitat for birds and other natural life. We need to reforest to sequester carbon and protect biodiversity.
What You Can Do: Support Earth Day Network’s programs to: restore the urban tree canopy; help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria by planting trees in Puerto Rico‘s El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the US; reforest the globe.