On April 22, 51 years ago, the first Earth Day took place. Sadly, with each passing year, our environment continues its alarming decline. From air and water pollution, we’ve added acid rain, ozone depletion, natural resource depletion, climate change, waste and nuclear waste disposal, deforestation, plastic pollution and biodiversity loss. We’re now in a full-fledged climate crisis.
What’s worse, the effects of the climate crisis have disproportionately hit Indigenous communities, racialized communities, the global south, people living in poverty and others who bear the effects, particularly in developing countries. Indigenous land defenders and elders from these communities across the world, including environmental activists globally, have been leading this movement for decades. This environmental racism makes the climate crisis also a justice crisis. It’s a terrible, overwhelming problem.
But running away from a problem never solved anything. No issue is so daunting that, when tackled collectively, can’t be solved. As labour activists, we’ve got a duty to fight for a clean planet – one where we, our children and our children’s children can live safely and thrive.
Like last year, we’re observing Earth Day in the grip of COVID-19. Marching through the streets is out of the question. So how do we mark it? One great way is to go to EarthDay.org for a variety of virtual events. Or do something small: plant something; ride a bike instead of driving; give up plastic bags; say no to bottled water; buy reusable straws; or avoid single-use plastics, among others.
The environment won’t be healed in our lifetimes. But we have to start somewhere. If not for ourselves, let’s think of our kids. They deserve a greener planet and a greener future.
We wish you and yours a very happy Earth Day!
OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer