For more than a decade, environmental artist Xavier Cortada has celebrated Earth Day with massive reforestation efforts, lectures and events. This year, due to a global pandemic, those events were cancelled. Instead, Cortada opted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day by creating daily videos to encourage viewers to write a letter to the future. Through their letters, they committed to act today so that Earth Day 2070 is something worth celebrating.
Launch of a Movement
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the launch of an environmental movement. We enter Earth Day 2020 witnessing the Sixth Mass Extinction, a global pandemic, and the other consequences of the climate crisis we are enduring. Let’s resolve to do better. This Earth Day, commit to doing something to protect life on our planet.
Write a Letter to the Future
This week we celebrate Earth Day‘s 50th anniversary. Half a century goes by in the blink of an eye. What we do, or fail to do, today is of tremendous consequence in the future. It will determine how Miami-Dade’s 22,834 Kindergarten children celebrate Earth Day 2070. Write a letter to them today, on Earth Day, promising to protect their future.
Protect Biscayne Bay
On April 22, 1970, twenty million Americans marched to protect our planet from environmental degradation. Today, we continue to allow industries to poison our ecosystems with pesticides and pollutants. We need regulations that actually stop our polluters causing algal blooms in our waterways. We need to do our part to stop poisoning our beloved bay with runoff from cars, chemicals, fertilizers, septic tanks and even leaking sewage pipes. Today, on Earth Day, let’s resolve to do better. Let’s Protect Biscayne Bay.
Fifty years ago, Americans observed their first Earth Day. Since then, they’ve been watching temperatures precipitously rise because of human impacts on the climate. Miami welcomes this Earth Day with the warmest year since it began keeping records 83 years ago! Rising temperatures melt glaciers (rising seas), warm oceans (strengthen hurricanes), and cause drought (wildfires). Warmer climatic conditions allow vectors of disease to venture northward and infect new populations. For the sake of all, especially the elderly for whom extreme heat can be deadly (heat stroke, heart failure), commit to lowering your carbon footprint.
In the 6th Mass Extinction
Half a century ago we welcomed our first Earth Day with a Robert Rauschenberg poster featuring an American eagle at its center. This year, we welcome Earth Day during Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction, an event perpetuated by our species. By the time we celebrate Earth Day 2070, about a third of our plants and animals may have been permanently erased. This impacts humans directly: the death of our corals means the death of fisheries, the death of pollinators means flowers don’t become fruit, the collapse of ecosystems means the end of life as we know it. We can do better, on Earth Day, let’s give our planet and the animals we coevolved with a little life support.
Sea Level Rise
It’s been five decades since Earth Day was launched. Much has changed since, but, in the next five decades, nothing will change as dramatically as our coastlines. By then, oceans are expected to rise by 3 feet! Sea level rise will also impact the “coastline beneath our feet,” salinating our fresh water aquifer. At home, way before the water laps at our doorstep, flood insurance rates will skyrocket, septic tanks will stop working, property values will pummel, banks will stop making 30 year mortgages, our local economy will tumble and our tax base will erode. This Earth Day, we can keep our heads in the sand, or we can commit to being proactive in addressing the issue of our time.
Pandemics in the Climate Crisis
This past week, almost 200 nations across the globe celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Their citizens did so, sheltered in place, in isolation, because of a global pandemic. A pandemic exacerbated by the climate crisis: Air pollution weakens lungs. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the Coronavirus. Deforestation not only limits nature’s ability to have trees turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, it also destroys animal habitats bringing humans in closer contact with the vectors of infectious disease. During Earth Day, this pandemic exposed our vulnerability to the climate crisis. If nothing else, it should strengthen our resolve to treat every day of the next 50 years as if it were Earth Day, a day when all of us come together and act and protect the environment. Our life depends on it.