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Earth Day 2013 should serve as the beginning of an environmental panic attack

LatinaLista — Earth Day 2013 should have been more than just a “celebration” of the planet or even a further raising of awareness of the consequences of climate change. Earth Day 2013 should have served as the beginning of a panic attack among global communities that the future of the planet is not just extremely fragile but imminently life-altering for all inhabitants.

Photo: National Science Foundation
Photo: National Science Foundation

Yet, a Christian Science Monitor article shows that the opposite is happening. According to the article, an Earth Day 2013 poll found that people today are less ‘eco-conscious’ than in 1971 when the annual environmental observation began.

In 1971, the year after Earth Day was founded, 63 percent of Americans said it was “very important” to work to restore and enhance the national environment, according to an Opinion Research Corp poll for President Richard Nixon. This year, only 39 percent of respondents said it was very important, according to a 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll.

…And a 2012 Harris Interactive poll found a similar falloff in eco-consciousness just over the past three or four years, with fewer and fewer Americans describing themselves as “environmentally conscious.”

It’s a disturbing realization in the face of small earthquakes rattling Oklahoma and Texas towns that never before had to deal with such phenomena until fracking moved into these areas; or the ongoing drought that has some states being classified as drought disaster areas.

And drought doesn’t just mean there’s no rain or the ground dries up but also grains, vegetables and fruit plants suffer from the drought, as well as, livestock — all part of the food chain.

It’s disturbing that people hardly think of the environment’s future in the face of a decreasing biodiversity from the Amazon jungles and African savannahs to the coral reefs and deep oceans.

Stephen Leahy, a renowned researcher and environmental journalist, is critical of the overriding effect of overpopulation, bad management of resources – water, land, fossil fuels and biodiversity; he fears a total collapse of the planet by 2050.

Thankfully, not all is bleak.

Some state legislatures are considering a ban on plastic bags, and some cities have already enacted them.

Community dialogue is also beginning to take shape about the connection between the health of the planet and health of certain communities.

Today, the Green For All and The League of Young Voters Education Fund staged a 2-hour webcast in honor of Earth Day. Mixed with music and celebrity appearances were serious discussions about a green economy, the water shortage, food insecurity and how communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the consequences of inaction in these areas.

And there is action.

A new nationwide program was launched to keep track of the country’s plants, animals and environment. Dubbed the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the initiative features monitoring stations scattered across the country in strategic locations where they will literally take pictures of the local environments, as a way to measure the health of the ecosystems.

Called the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the program encompasses a series of monitoring stations that will measure the health of ecosystems by taking snapshots from strategically chosen locations across the country.

“Earth’s living systems are experiencing the greatest rates of change in history, due to land-use changes, invasive species and climate change,” said Elizabeth Blood, the NSF program director for NEON. “Many of these changes will be abrupt and unpredictable.”

And unfortunately, for an uninterested population, will take most by complete (unnecessary) surprise.

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