Every Day is Earth Day
Earth Day is our chance to shout louder than we’ve done before (whilst continuing to bore the tits off our family and friends every other day). Starting tomorrow, we can all take part in 3 Days of Climate Action.
Before we take stock of where we are today in the environmental movement and where we need to go next, let’s take a look at how far we’ve come.
Whilst others as far back as 1800, like the lost hero of science Alexander von Humboldt, have been warning about human-induced climate change, it wasn’t until Rachel Carson that the environmental movement gained significant momentum. In 1962, Carson published her beautiful swan song to Mother Nature, Silent Spring, now considered ‘one of the most influential books of the twentieth century’:
‘If you had to choose one text by one person as the cornerstone of the conservation movement, the signal for politically savvy environmental activism, and the beacon of worldwide lay awareness of ecological systems, Silent Spring would be most people's clear choice.’
As Tim suggests, if you’re reading this book for the first time, try not to scoff at the science of it. To put it into context, we hadn’t even landed on the moon when Silent Spring was published so we’ve learnt a thing or two about the earth since then. Instead, immerse yourself in Carson’s singular ability to translate complex science into not only an accessible narrative but one that triggered a tipping point in the environmental movement.
‘Historically, only vital and sweeping change in public opinion and individual attitudes has changed or destroyed social institutions.’
Judith Wright McKinney, 1973
Knowing that Carson had the power to influence such sweeping change, the chemical industry was outraged and attempted to ban her book. Thankfully, they failed and Carson continued to raise wide scale public awareness of the devastating impacts of the use of industrial pesticides, particularly around the presumed to be harmless, DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane).
‘Hey farmer farmer,
Put away that DDT now.
Give me spots on my apples,
But leave me the birds and the bees.
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi. 1970.
Warning that the continued use of such chemicals would cause a silent spring: a season devoid of the harmonies of the birds and the bees, she successfully influenced government agencies and instigated legislation change. However, thanks to those facing the greatest financial losses from action against climate change, seeds of doubt were sown to offset the severity of her testament. Continuously, these doubts have been meticulously diffused at pivotal moments throughout the environmental movement.
Around 2008 perhaps the most significant shift occurred when climate change developed from a political debate to a cultural one. Threatened by the Cap and Trade plan which would limit greenhouse gas emissions for American traders, petroleum industry leaders Charles and David Koch, funded many campaign groups, one of which launched ‘Cap and Tax’. They suggested the plan was not just a threat to businesses but to the American way of life with meddlesome-old Al Gore telling everyone what to drive and how to heat their homes. Fuelling public outrage, they successfully killed the Cap and Trade plan.
By spreading misinformation and through inflammatory branding such as this, the fossil fuel industry and other high carbon emitters have delayed climate action time and again. Today they’ve gotten even sneakier, making grand and misleading statements in what is now known as greenwashing: check out our previous blog on how to spot this!
We are at a moment of sweeping change in public opinion once again but the tide is turning in our favour. Thanks to the likes of Greta Thunberg for concisely informing world leaders and policy-makers that our house is on fire, to David Attenborough for shifting mass-public awareness over the devastating impact of single-use-plastics on our environment, to legions of protesters across the world, in some places risking their liberty and lives to protect our earth. We are challenging the status quo that has gotten us into this hot mess.
So, what can we do?
‘As an individual, you yield real power and influence as a consumer, a voter, and a member of a community that can unite for change.
Don’t underestimate your power.’
Join in with this year’s theme to Restore Our Earth, much like One Wear Freedom’s own dedication to Restore Mother Nature! Starting tomorrow, events will be hosted across the world and here’s a quick summary of what’s coming up:
Tuesday 20th - Global Youth Climate Summit led by Earth Uprising, in collaboration with My Future My Voice, OneMillionOfUs, hundreds of youth climate activists and special messages from Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Villaseñor, and Licypriya Kangujam.
Wednesday 21st - Education International will lead the multilingual virtual Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit featuring prominent activists from every continent, focused on the crucial role that educators play in combating climate change.
Thursday 22nd - Earth Day!
Going digital for a second year, workshops, panel discussions, and special performances will be running all day so be sure to check out the full calendar or let them know if you’ve got your own thing planned!
Even Joe Biden’s got an event booked in! He’s called 40 world leaders to a virtual summit on the climate crisis ahead of the UN COP26 in November. Whilst our world leaders make grand statements, we must continue to hold them to account which is what the parallel EARTHDAY.ORG event intends to do.
Whether you decide to publish a book that will change the course of history, or start browsing the web for easy sustainability hacks, choose to take action with us on Earth Day. Big or small, our actions when multiplied by millions can have a huge positive impact. Tag us on Instagram and let us know about your act of green. We particularly love EARTHDAY.ORG’s simple acts of green and if you’re looking for somewhere to start, you could always empty that online shopping cart and head over to our collections to rent your next outfit 😉