Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day Can't Solve Our Biggest Challenges - But We Can

What's Earth Day 2011 about? Consuming!

That's right, new AOL subsidiary Huffington Post declares, "There's no better way to celebrate the planet than with free goodies!" Because nothing says conservation like using more than you need.

Shameless corporate co-opting aside, I'm cynical about Earth Day for one reason: No major environmental problem has ever been solved through voluntary individual action. Voluntary individual actions didn't solve DDT, water pollution, air pollution, ozone destruction, or acid rain - federal government action did.

Right now, our biggest environmental challenge is our addiction to dirty fuels and all its destructive effects - a climate in crisis, polluted air and water, destruction of communities & habitats thanks to oil drilling & mountaintop removal, the list goes on. But on, you have to make two clicks to get to anything about legislative action, and that's only an ask to sign a petition ... which feels more like it's about collecting your email address than driving action.

What Earth Day CAN do is raise awareness, especially among Earth's newest residents, about our environmental challenges. You can join an event in Arlington on Saturday, or find an event near you at And there is one giveaway worth checking out - Capital Bikeshare is giving out bike maps & membership coupons in Rosslyn today.

But none of that is a substitute for the concerted action needed to change our national policies and keep energy & environmental issues at the top of the political agenda.

If you too find yourself feeling a bit cynical this morning and are in need of an Earth Day laugh, you can watch last year's NWF Climate Capsule Earth Day flashback. Or join Stephen Colbert some Earth Day jingoism by yelling SUCK IT, OTHER PLANETS:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Earth Is Awesome
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive
Post a Comment