Today, nearly one billion people around the world will celebrate Earth Day, and tens of thousands of Americans will attend rallies and teach-ins for the March for Science.
It almost seems absurd that we even have to take to the streets to defend the role science has in our everyday lives, but alas, here we are.
There was a time when science, especially environmental issues, had bipartisan Congressional support. Emotions and politics did not overrule scientific research, and our effort as humans to better under the physical and natural world through observation and experiment was not questioned.
But somewhere along the way, many of our political leaders have steered away from evidence-based science to inform our policies. Now agencies like the EPA and NOAA face sweeping budget cuts that will harm our economy, our planet and our safety.
We know the current state of our planet: critically stressed and deteriorating because of human activity, manifesting in our climate, plant and animal species, food, the air we breathe and water we drink.
But there is hope.
Because today I see an entire global population coming together to celebrate our planet. I see citizens of the world planting trees, cleaning up rivers and teaching our children to be stewards of the environment. I am hopeful because of us. We are showing the world that science is for all.
Knowledge is power.
Research drives prosperity, both economically and socially. Science has extended our average life span, and shown us the impact of lead poisoning and how to harness the sun and wind into renewable energy sources.
There are no such things as alternative facts. Climate change is not a hoax. We know this and must double down to promote the fundamental principles of science and science literacy.
The U.S. can and should lead the world in innovations. But it takes a commitment and investment from our elected officials. If President Trump truly believes in “America First,” then we must help him see how that government funding is crucial to research and training the next generation of scientists.
Everything from genetics and botany to geology and anthropology helps drive this country. Even the military relies on science.
So when Congress introduces new legislation to undo regulations that protects our air and water, remember today and the number of people who celebrated Earth Day. When this administration blatantly denies the role of carbon dioxide in global warming, remember that scientists, and science lovers, stood up and organized a march as a sign of resistance.
Science will prevail.
Many of us were taught to reduce, reuse and recycle to eliminate waste and conserve natural resources and energy. The three Rs is a cute slogan we teach kids to recycle aluminum cans, turn off water when brushing their teeth and find creative ways to repurpose materials.
However, as I’ve gotten older, I realized that I have relied on recycling more than making an effort to reduce waste. I’ve done easy things like signing up to receive email instead of paper notices, donating old clothes and goods, and ensuring I keep a ChicoBag in my purse so I’ll always have a reusable bag when I go shopping. But one day I was cleaning out the refrigerator and saw green beans, bell peppers and broccoli rotting away in the crisper. I forgot they were down there.
Uggghhhh. Soooo much food going to waste. This food could have helped feed families, and now it’s going to a landfill.
I had to ask myself, “How much trash am I throwing away, and exactly what is 'away?' Where is my trash going, and who lives there?”
There’s a reason why the order is reduce, reuse and recycle. We’re supposed to:
However, that’s not the case here in the United States. The U.S. is one of the leading trash-producing countries in the world. As populations increase and become more urbanized and industrialized, the more waste a country generates.
Our waste has gotten so bad in the U.S., the USDA and EPA has set a food loss and waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030.
The average American produces around 4.6 pounds of municipal solid waste (MSW) every day, helping the country generate more than 250 million pounds of waste every year. Around half of the waste in the U.S. is sent to a landfill, while the rest is recycled, composted or incinerated.
Food makes up more than 20 percent of waste in this country, making it the most common material that ends up in a landfill or incinerator. Organic materials such as food waste, paper and paperboard, and yard clippings are the biggest components of MSW.
Landfills have become a major producer of methane emissions due to buried organic material that’s rotting. Pipes are used to vent and burn methane to release the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, which is 28 to 36 more times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. According to the EPA, MSW landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S.
Environmental advocate. Communications professional. Sports fan. I love television and press conferences.