Tomorrow (April 22nd) is Earth Day. The Earth Day Network has announced that this year’s theme is Protect Our Species. Human activity is having an unprecedented toll on the earth’s species diversity due to things like climate change, pollution, and deforestation and other habitat loss.
Bees play an important role worldwide through pollination, yet their numbers have been sharply declining. Neonicotinoid pesticide use is thought to be a contributing factor. The David Suzuki Foundation has some tips on how to grow a bee-friendly garden.
Earth Day isn’t just an environmental issue; it’s also a social justice issue. Access to things like clean air and safe water should not depend on the colour of someone’s skin or how much money is in their bank account, but unfortunately in too many cases they do.
A post by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) for last year’s Earth Day points out that oppressed communities, which are often racialized and of lower socioeconomic status, are often disproportionately affected by the effects of pollution and other environmental toxins. The ongoing water quality issues in Flint, Michigan are a prime example. In Canada, the government has recently been taking action on the matter, but for years there have been large numbers of Indigenous communities that had years-long boil water advisories in place.
An article by Chris Benjamin in the Canadian publication Halifax Magazine brought up the concept of environmental racism and the effect this had both past and present on Indigenous peoples. Certainly industry has had a huge effect on Indigenous stewardship of the land. The author also argues that social inequality hurts the environment, and environmental sustainability requires a just society.
There’s certainly a lot to think about this Earth Day, but don’t forget to look for ways to mix action in with thought.