We are at a critical turning point in the history of humanity. Climate change, gender equality, health, social justice and inclusion are issues that affect us all and have an impact on human well-being and economic stability. And then there is always some war somewhere. The question of how we live sustainable, safe lives affects us all – and also connects us all. But today, in the run-up to Earth Day 2022, let’s take a closer look at our global climate crisis.
The climate is becoming more threatening
In the face of this global crisis, we must bring about change to prevent the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. Knowing how human impact leads to global warming, natural disasters and species extinction, and thus poverty, hunger and significant environmental justice issues are critical. Only then can we understand the role we play and the responsibility we have to respond to these problems and join the fight against climate change.
We humans are living beings and with all living beings, we belong to nature. We need nature to live. Likewise, we all need more or less
- oxygen to breathe,
- water and food
- and a climate in which we can live. It must not be too warm and not too cold.
We humans change the climate of the earth. The changes have consequences for other humans, for other species on our earth, for the environment and for the climate. That is why we as humans have a special responsibility for Planet Earth. We can understand climate change. That is why we can also bring about changes.
Earth Day is Every Day!
Earth Day #earthday is an annual recurring initiative that takes place worldwide on 22 April. On this day, full attention is to be paid to climate protection and raising awareness for sustainability. The first event took place on 20 April 1970, as a spontaneous student movement in the USA. The aim of Earth Day was to show the establishment in Washington and the public that there was an environmental movement in North America and that nature now had a strong lobby.
Since then, Earth Day has evolved into a worldwide day of action. An estimated one billion people from 193 countries around the world dedicate themselves to this day every year. The purpose is to encourage people to push for climate change on a national and global level. Of course, it’s not just about this one day. It’s … Every … Single … Day! Earth Day helps to raise awareness of climate issues all year round.
From climate change to a climate crisis
We have been experiencing the most profound changes in society and nature for about 250 years, starting with the Industrial Revolution. But even before that, not everything was in order. Alexander von Humboldt already pointed out climate change. The polymath warned against deforestation as early as 1843. Nevertheless, here and there some still refuse to acknowledge climate change and just carry on as before, as long as we don’t endanger economic growth: Don’t touch a running system. But is the system really still running as it should?
What is more important than understanding and addressing the big issues that shape our world? How do we find a personal response to these challenges? And – of course – it is not always easy to make changes for a more sustainable future.
Thanks to the research achievements of many scientists, we now know that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and that our species, Homo Sapiens, evolved out of Africa 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. In the time that we have evolved as an individual species – about one three-thousandth of the age of the Earth – we have also begun to change our planet.
The most important priority for our future is sustainability
The people of today must ensure that the people of the future will still have suitable living conditions. Two hundred years is the approximate lifespan of seven generations. The Onondaga, one of the six nations of the Haudenosaunee people, always take into account the concerns of the seven preceding generations and the seven succeeding generations when they have to make far-reaching decisions.
Two hundred years from now, if there is still human life on earth, the people of that time will probably tell stories about the companies that seemed to dominate the planet in our time, and about the huge amounts of toxic chemicals and waste that were dumped into soil, air and water. But they will also talk about us, their ancestors who refused to go along. They will speak of those who, despite initially feeling alone and inferior, followed their inner wisdom and respect for life and said, “Something is wrong here.”
What about all the obstacles? Can humans still stop climate change?
Climate change has already started. We cannot stop it completely, but we can slow it down. Most scientists agree that we are at a turning point in terms of the environment. “We are at a crossroads. The choices we make now can ensure a livable future. We have the tools and the know-how to limit warming,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee during the presentation of the third and thus last partial report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment report. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a total of 278 researchers from 65 countries were involved.
“Invest in our Planet” is this year’s Earth Day motto, and the theme is well-chosen because it shows what climate protection really means: an investment in our future. Without this investment, our prosperity in the future is seriously threatened.
In doing so, we must not only pay attention to our own consumption. Earth Day 2022 aims to mobilize everyone – governments, citizens, institutions, and businesses – to recognize collective responsibility and help accelerate the transition to a fair, prosperous green economy for all. Everyone is responsible, and each of us is accountable.
Governments and corporations must be held accountable for damage caused, including finally becoming part of the solutions. Replace old technologies from centuries past with new, better solutions. Enabling an economy for the 21st century and beyond for all future generations restores the health of our planet, protects our species and provides opportunities for people everywhere. Many have already started to do so, and serve as good role models of what good solutions can actually look like in doing so. Here are suggestions of what the IPCC recommends we can do to alleviate the climate crisis.
Change always starts with a first step
We may often feel powerless in the middle of it. I certainly feel that way. But we can empower ourselves every day a little more to be part of the solutions. A little every day, and with almost 8 billion people on this planet, that would be quite a lot to move towards change step by step. Every change always starts with a first step:
- Produce or buy fewer things and make things last longer. Politics can set rules for the process. And each and every individual can also consider: Do I really need something new? Can I still repair something?
- Eat less meat and more plant-based food. Mass livestock farming has a disastrous impact on our climate. With meat and dairy products, agriculture is one of the main causes of climate change.
- Everybody can do something to protect the climate. We can go on holiday by train instead of flying. If we have a car, we can try to use it less or share it. Or go to work by bike instead of by car. Avoid products made of plastic. Buying second-hand clothes. The main 5 R’s of sustainability are, Reuse, buy less (Refuse) or (Reduce), generally rethink our consumption (Rethink) and use alternative production and design methods to better create and sell products (Recycle).
- Investments in renewable energies instead of fossil fuels are most important. Above all, international agreements can limit climate change. In the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, countries agreed to produce fewer greenhouse gases. Only together can we create a secure future on our planet that continues to be worth living. The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals also provide a good guideline for a sustainable future. For me, this is the basis for all future action.
It is the small things that together are often able to accomplish great things
These changes are not just about practising renunciation. With good ideas and new inventions, life can get better. We still have the chance to make a difference. Not only on World Earth Day, but every day of the year. Earth Day is Every Day!