By R. J. Turner

It is extremely difficult to focus on the future when today many are in need due to the pandemic, yet alone remembering April 22nd known as “Earth Day”. The day being a yearly renewal reminding us of the need to protect our air, land, and waterways.

Earmarked as a call to action, the designated day arose from a hot button issue in the early 1970s that developed into a massive environmental movement bringing awareness to dangerous conditions here in the United States. Communities of color were not included.

For decades, civil rights leaders and organizations have spoken out exposing environmental racism and injustices that have plagued underserved communities. On a local level, community leaders and activists continuously fight to eradicate these injustices that often include blighted and abandoned properties, overused landfills, overflowing sewage systems, and lack of clean air and drinking water. These inequities continue to have significant public health implications.

Earth Day has since evolved into a day of service where communities across the country are dedicated to cleaning up neighborhoods, greenspaces, and water resources. Emphasis is also heavily placed on encouraging recycling efforts and urban farming.

Likewise in the early 70s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established to address hazardous environmental conditions such as pollutants, pesticides, toxins, and more. The EPA is helping to protect us and the environment.

Today, we are faced with global warming, widely known as climate change. Maybe to some, it is still a speculation. While for others, it is too far into the future to acknowledge. Scientists, environmentalists, and activists have been warning us for years. Right now, we are seeing evidence of extreme weather conditions across the globe, creating the potential for a global humanitarian crisis, even more than what we are already witnessing. We are heavily impacted by catastrophic hurricanes, tornadoes, flash floods, droughts, and massive fires.

The scope of this is enormous. The United States has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord where nations are coming together to help solve this. We are experiencing conditions that are forcing us to reevaluate how we live, work, commute, and travel on a global scale. While new methods, innovations and discoveries are being made, there seems to be no simplistic answer or solution.

Seeing beyond Earth Day as being a yearly affirmation, climate change should be treated with more of a sense of urgency with present-day occurrences. Right now, it seems as though extreme weather conditions are happening more frequently. It’s hard to fathom, these conditions happening all at the same time as warmer weather increases and sea levels rise.

Focusing on climate change has to become a priority in all our lives. Not by abandoning what we continuously have to fight for like voting rights or economic equality or jobs or ending poverty. While what seems to be a constant in our lives, social injustice and this country’s racial divide has allowed time for little else. Justifiably, right now getting through this pandemic safely is of major concern.

This reflection on climate change/global warming is to encourage us all to get involved while we have time. What will the state of the planet be in ten, twenty and thirty years?

Combating global warming can’t be put on the back burner as a low priority. It won’t allow us to continue to ignore the condition of the earth and ecosystem for much longer. For this Earth Day, making climate change a major focus in our lives will take all of our attention to work towards finding solutions.