Pledging Green

By: Kathleen Rogers
Mitigating the climate change challenge presents an unprecedented opportunity to build a prosperous, clean energy economy. The process has begun and it is so terribly exciting in its sheer scope, especially for the invention and creativity that it is spawning around the world.
English Free Article Environment

What if 1 billion people got together and created green actions, ahead of the 2012 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Summit in Rio? What if individuals, schools, communities, corporations and governments all committed to acts of sustainability and climate action that amounted to a billion actions? That would send a powerful signal that it is time to stop arguing ideology and start working toward a green economy. Really working. Because make no mistake, there is serious work to be done. And we must start now.

As Earth Day Network (EDN) organises ‘A Billion Acts of Green’, the US Congress dithers – playing politics with the water we drink, the air we breathe and the land that grows our food. Meanwhile, other countries, including India, are making commitments to a cleaner, healthier earth future.

Climate change is the greatest challenge – and opportunity – of our time. The list of tasks is long and long term and the paradigm shift its completion would bring are near-evolutionary. But truly mitigating the climate change challenge presents an unprecedented opportunity to build a prosperous, clean energy economy. The process has begun and it is so terribly exciting, in its sheer scope, especially for the invention and creativity it is spawning around the world. In rural Africa and India, poor women are learning to install solar panels and electrifying their villages for the first time. At the other end of the spectrum, a US telecom software company has reinvented itself to be the software that monitors electricity use and has successfully navigated out of a maturing industry into a new one. Local and state leaders are holding meetings in their communities to foster local green economies and organising invigorating Earth Day events to clean parks, beaches, water and neighbourhoods.

Once again, the people are taking charge. Since 1970, Earth Day has been a rallying point for individuals and organisations to advocate effective change. During the first Earth Day, 20 million people marched, and that day resulted in sweeping passage of environmental legislation in the US. Earth Day India director, Karuna Singh, feels that the spirit of Earth Day in India is like that of the first one in the US. Many people are making significant contributions to sustainability in their own backyards. In Iraq, thirteen year old Hocar Hamdamin Hassan lost his hands and his 11 year old brother Hauri an eye in a tragic land mine incident a few years ago. Today, both are dedicated to helping the environment and particularly enthusiastic about participating in Earth Day. As part of EDN’s global ‘Billion Acts of Green’ campaign, they helped clean the school’s grounds and plant trees to show the world that everybody, no matter what their obstacles, should support the environmental movement. These unsung heroes deserve a salute for their belief in the importance of caring for our planet.

A record 192 countries are participating in Earth Day this year. Three to four million children are participating in a United Nations Environmental Programme-sponsored children’s earth art competition. Thousands of partners are organising 35,000 school activities in more than 60 countries in Europe and Asia. Even the US State Department has adopted A Billion Acts of Green as its own Earth Day theme, calling on 256 US embassies and consulates in 177 countries to log the most acts of green. Earth Day Network’s Canopy Project continues to make huge inroads against deforestation, as official partner Trees for the Future plants more than 40 million trees across Africa, Latin America and Asia. In many ways, these acts of environmental service are acts of environmental advocacy. Creating and quantifying a billion acts of green is like a petition signed through real action. Instead of clicking or signing something, you are actually making an impact while sending a message. An Act of Green can be anything from opting for an energy efficient light bulb, collecting electronic waste, planting trees, collecting petition signatures, handing out reusable shopping bags or calling an elected official or corporation manager or mass actions – or the 52 million trees planted. These individual acts of green add up.

Let us commit to collecting 1 billion acts of green before the 2012 Rio Earth Summit in Brazil. It will send an undeniable message to the world’s leaders that a billion people are putting themselves to work for the planet, and that they will accept nothing less in return than a real commitment for global change.

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