This year's Earth Day theme, "Earth Won't Wait," sends a message that the time for action is now.
April 22 is recognized throughout the world as Earth Day. It is a day for people to reflect upon the value of our planet and the many ways it impacts our lives. This year’s Earth Day theme, “Earth Won’t Wait,” compels us to take immediate action regarding the protection and preservation of our planet. Of the many issues that our environment faces, global warming is most directly addressed this April. Throughout the month of April, Ashford University is promoting increased awareness of and appreciation for the earth's natural environment.
Earth Day Past and Present
The celebration of Earth Day began in 1970, when very little attention was paid to the natural environment. US Senator Gaylord Nelson felt compelled to educate people about our planet; and slowly, his idea gained momentum. On that first Earth Day celebration, over 20 million Americans participated by voicing their support for environmental protection. The first Earth Day finally brought the issue of the environment to the world of politics and led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as important legislation such as the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Now, more than 40 years later, the environmental movement continues to challenge people around the world to take action. Earth Day Network (EDN) works with 192 countries and over one billion people to celebrate Earth Day with programs, projects, and activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. (Earth Day, 2012)
For more information about Earth Day and organizations with which you can get involved, check out the Earth Day website .
It's time to take a serious look at how our actions are negatively impacting the world's
ecosystems, which have experience more damage in the last 50 years than ever before.
In the Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated the following:
It is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent (except Antarctica)…
Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in
Green House Gas concentrations (Climate change, 2007).
The IPCC is a group composed of thousands of scientists representing over 120 different countries. To have such a large organization claim that our use of green house gases is the direct cause of global warming is frightening to say the least. The study goes on to say that it is extremely likely that global warming can be blamed for extreme weather conditions.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there were 98 Major Disaster Declarations in the United States in 2011 — more than any other recorded year (Declared disasters, 2012). According to a report on reliefweb.com (2011), this problem is global. It states the following:
In the first semester of 2011, natural disasters had a devastating impact on human society. Preliminary EM-DAT figures showed the occurrence of 108 natural disasters, which killed over 23 thousand people, affected nearly 44 million others and caused more than US $253 billion of economic damages (Disaster data, 2011).
When presented with these statistics, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the issue of global warming, which is why Earth Day 2012 insists that “earth won’t wait” and that we must act now to protect our most valuable resource. But how do we go about having an impact on a problem of such enormity? Like many people, those at Earthday.net believe that the answer lies in education. By teaching younger generations the importance of taking care of our planet, we can instill a greater set of environmental values. Read about how schools are becoming involved in the Earth Day movement.
What You Can Do
We challenge you to get involved and find ways you can work toward a greener planet. The list below contains just a few simple ways you can do your part in ensuring that our planet stays beautiful and its resources are preserved.
Participate in Ashford University’s Volunteer Day on April 14, 2012, by volunteering your time to better the environment. For details on how you can get involved, keep an eye out for an email with more information and an update on the Student Portal.
Clean up. It might sound simple, but just taking a walk and picking up any trash that you see is an extremely effective way of making sure that your local environment stays beautiful
Carpool, use a hybrid vehicle, start using public transportation, or ride a bicycle when possible. Whatever you can do to cut down on the amount of greenhouse gases you are emitting goes a long ways toward ending global warming.
Reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse. Turn the water off when you’re brushing your teeth. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store. Recycle materials including cans, bottles, newspapers, cardboard, and plastic. Better yet, refuse one-time use disposable containers and utensils by bringing your own reusable ones to school or work. Learn more about the damage plastic is doing to our oceans at the Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics site .
Consider reducing your consumption of meat to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases due to raising animals for food, which the United Nations reports is almost 40% more than that produced by all the world’s transportation systems combined (Freston, 2009). Read about the startling effects on the earth of going meatless for just one day.
Write your senators and representatives! Let them know you care about the environment. Stay informed regarding local environmental matters and know what you can do to protect our planet.
To find out more about how you can get involved this Earth Day, check out the Earth Day 2012 website .
Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, who discovered the Great
Pacific Garbage Patch, said in his 2009 TED talk, "only we humans make waste that nature can't
digest." View his riveting presentation above.
Ashford University Student Spotlight – Margaret Green
Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
Ten years ago, Margaret Green, 48, faced a challenge with which many other mothers struggle. She was a year away from graduating with her Bachelor’s degree when her daughter was born. “I wanted very much to finish that last year of school, but I also wanted to be home with my child while she was young.” Margaret eventually realized that continuing to delay completing her degree was counterproductive. In fact, she considers her drive to finish her education an important part of being a good mother. “My daughter sees how I work hard and she celebrates with me when I get good grades. I am sure that it affects her self-image. My daughter will see a college education as something that she can easily accomplish one day.”
Before returning to school, Margaret was caring for her father, homeschooling her daughter, and running her own business. Not surprisingly, the added time constraint of coursework has caused her to rearrange her schedule, but what was at first terrifying has become a positive change. “I make good use of my slow cooker to save time in the kitchen, I set weekly goals for my business and schedule my time carefully. I have gotten my house more organized, and I have been eating a more healthy low-fat diet. Being a student has added a new dimension to my life. I am excited about my day when I get up in the morning. I have more self-confidence, a greater sense of hope, and a tremendous sense of drive.”
That drive propels Margaret to pursue her degree, and not just because she wants to inspire her daughter; she has her own dreams to achieve. Margaret is a proponent of alternative energy, alternative building methods, and energy conservation and efficiency. Her dream is to help build a more sustainable future. Years ago, she left the affluent neighborhoods of Chicago to raise her daughter in a more rustic and sustainable environment. “We lived off the grid in a cabin for several years. We had a wood stove for heat and fresh spring water to drink. I eventually left the cabin because it was too isolated, and now I feel a need to take that original dream of a better sustainable lifestyle and apply it in a more modern format. I have spent a lot of time looking at alternative communities, and I realized that what I was looking for doesn’t exist yet. A friend suggested that perhaps it will not exist until I create it.”
Completing her Bachelor’s degree online is the first step to securing the credentials she needs to be a reputable contributor in this field. Margaret is living up to her own advice: “If you have a dream, don’t wait to pursue it.” Margaret is due to graduate with her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in June 2012.
Climate change 2007: Synthesis report. (2007). Retrieved on March 5, 2012 from http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/mains2-4.html
Declared disasters by year or state. (2012). Retrieved on March 6, 2012 from http://www.fema.gov/news/disaster_totals_annual.fema
Disaster data: A balanced perspective. (2011, September). CredCrunch Newsletter, 2011(25). Retrieved on March 7, 2012 from http://reliefweb.int/node/454724
Earth Day 2012 – Mobilize the earth. (n.d.). Retrieved on March 7, 2012 from http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2012
Environmental education in the 21st century. (2012, November 1). Retrieved on March 8, 2012 from http://www.earthday.org/blog/2011/12/01/environmental-education-21st-century
Freston, K. The startling effects of going vegetarian for just one day. (2009, April 2). Retrieved on March 13, 2012 from http://www.alternet.org/story/134650/the_startling_effects_of_going_vegetarian_for_just_one_day/
Take action. (n.d.). Retrieved on March 8, 2012 from http://www.earthday.org/take-action
The global warming statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved on March 6, 2012 from http://www.theglobalwarmingstatistics.org/