April 22nd is Earth Day, a day to appreciate our planet, and become a little more environmentally friendly. It was established in 1970, to celebrate the passage of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Air act among others. For me, it is an event that I remember fondly as a child, as it always had special emphasis. In elementary school, my teachers always impressed the importance of the environment, taking Earth Day to teach us about cleaning up litter, or ways that we could reduce waste in our day-to-day lives. I even remember a reusable shopping bag my parents had – a canvas affair with a picture of the earth, and neon pink text saying ‘EARTH DAY,’ urging us to reduce, reuse and recycle.
However, this was just a few years away from the sudden realizations of climate change – how serious an issue it was, and how little time we had to rectify our mistakes. While Earth Day will still be a time when many will connect with others in their community to pick up trash, plant trees, and celebrate the planet, it should also be used as a time to understand the true impacts of deforestation, the loss of arable land and climate change. In the same way that my interactions as a child with Earth Day had an important personal impact on me, climate change has a significant impact on individuals worldwide, human or otherwise.
Earth Day 2013 is about the Face of Climate Change, a campaign, which means to show that climate change isn’t a matter of government policy, or of glaciers melting in far away places. It is an issue that impacts farmers and fishermen, who deal with droughts and declining fish populations, and the people displaced due to the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes and other natural disasters. It also impacts animals suffering from habitat loss whether it is from human activity, or rising temperatures. The Face of Climate Change project accumulates photographs of people, animals, and environments that have experienced the negative effects of the changing planet. It also documents the efforts of individuals, like you, or my elementary school teachers, who work to fight climate change, and improve the planet for all beings.
One organization and Jolkona partner making a difference for the environment is Trees for the Future. They approach environmental sustainability, responsible farming practices, forest recovery, and providing opportunities for farmers all over the world in one fell swoop, by planting trees and training communities in agroforestry. A donation of $5 provides the fund to plant 50 trees, an astounding amount. And, Trees for the Future has a presence in a number of countries from Burundi to Brazil, and from Ethiopia to Cameroon.
Working with Trees for the Future provides an incredible amount of impact, especially for Earth Day 2013. Planting trees and teaching sustainable agroforestry to communities directly helps some of the people most affected by Climate Change. In addition, the sheer number of trees planted from each donation works to restore canopies, and scrub excess carbon dioxide from the environment. Not only can you reduce your own carbon footprint, you can help communities affected by deforestation, soil loss, and the loss of livelihood. On this planet, everyone is a Face of Climate Change, and we can all do our part. In honor of Earth Day 2013, donate today, and spread trees all over the world.