It’s Earth Day, and those who would save our environment so that it keeps supporting human and other life are battling as never before to pull the planet back from its tipping point.
Rising temperatures, melting ice and encroaching sea levels are each symptoms of what modern scientists and Indigenous Peoples alike say is a sign that the web supporting life on Mother Earth is being fragmented in ways we do not understand. It is equally clear, they say, that fossil fuel use and other human habits are largely to blame.
This year the theme of Earth Day is Green Cities, according to the Earth Day site. It is being celebrated by more than a billion people in 192 countries, “from Zimbabwe to Albania to Indonesia,” who are organizing demonstrations, planting trees, conducting community cleanups and demanding an increased public policy focus on renewable energy technologies. While climate reports are dire, there is room for optimism, as The Nation magazine points out. Indigenous Peoples are key to that. In listing six reasons “Why I’m Not Totally Bummed Out This Earth Day,” Associate Publisher of Special Projects Peter Rothberg cites Idle No More, among other groups and movements. Here is a short summary of his list, which is worth a read in its entirety.
1. Students are saying, “Enough is enough.”
Students are showing “deep dedication” as never before to “to social justice, economic equality and environmental responsibility,” Rothberg tells us.
“Nowhere is this more apparent than in the burgeoning student campaign for divestment from fossil fuel companies,” he writes. “More than 400 campuses currently have campaigns and six schools have already pledged divestment.”
Although he does not mention tribes specifically, Rothberg singles out the climate-action group founded by environmentalist Bill McKibben, who is known to work with tribes. In fact, this week they are pitching tents and tipis side by side with Native activists and others who are opposing the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington DC.
3. Idle No More
In this entry Rothberg points out that Indigenous Peoples bear the brunt of effects from the extraction industry and notes the grip the movement had across all of Canada and beyond.
“International recognition and awareness of the issues followed, and the group continues to push back against environmental degradation and social injustice on numerous fronts,” Rothberg wrote.
4. Progressive Brainiacs Who Get It: Union of Concerned Scientists
The Union of Concerned Scientists has raised the alarm on a number of environmental dangers over the years, many of them mirroring tribal concerns. The global warming section of its website is no different, highlighting the changes that are taking place and setting out a list not only of possible solutions but also of plans on how to actually implement them.
5. Growing Awareness of the So-Called Super-Rich
From billionaire Tom Steyer, who is famously investing $100 million to bring climate change to the fore as a 2014 election issue and who opposes the Keystone XL pipeline, to World Bank President Jim Yon Kim, the One Percent is starting to take note of climate change and its effect on the ultimate bottom line.
“No social movement can ever rely on the 1 percent, but increasing enlightenment among the global class of super-rich investors doesn’t hurt the cause at all,” Rothberg notes.
6. Stirring, Shifting Power. Globally.
There is a movement afoot, and it’s called the Global Power Shift, Rothberg tells us. The first year of its operation saw hundreds begin mobilizing the world over, calling for the human race to understand how interconnected everything is. This video describes the first gathering in Istanbul in June 2013. Stay tuned for Phase 2.