GUEST EDITORIAL: HAPPY EARTH DAY
On March 21, 1969 (the date of the Vernal Equinox) a large group of San Francisco's young concerned citizens crossed over to the northern side of the Golden Gate Bridge and precisely at daylight celebrated an event meant to draw attention to the pollution and unbridled greed that was destroying the Earth's resources.
The 1969 event actually did what it was supposed to do, and the following year (1970) a small group of politicians and people of good will came together coined the title "Earth Day" and decided to make April 22 the official date to celebrate "Earth Day" every year.
On this coming Sunday, Earth Day will be celebrated around the world by well-meaning people. Politicians will make proclamations, a few informed religious leaders will preach that an environmental problem exists and people will celebrate Earth Day by contemplating the damage being done to the planet with sincere promises that they will get around to doing something about it starting, tomorrow! Some will reason that the government will come to the rescue (not likely). Others will reason that it’s too late or it's God will.
Thus by burying our collective heads in the sand we allow ourselves to go back to our former lives of consumption, continuing the damage to the environment— falsely secure in the knowledge that others will solve our problems.
This is what has been going on for over fifty years. The rapid growth and severity of the ecological stresses being placed on our planet's atmosphere must be addressed —and tomorrow will be to late.
So, of all the environmental problems we face, the major challenge is to begin to address climate change and our usual slow paced efforts of the past will not be enough. We can look around and see what our cousins and friends in Tokelau, Tuvalu, and Kiribati are dealing with, and this is just the beginning. Raising sea levels (or melting polar caps) are right now affecting lowland areas around the world with record heat waves, record amounts and intensity of hurricanes.
Scientists tell us that worldwide we are and have been (since 1985) putting an excessive amount of carbon dioxide (comes from the burning of gas and diesel and other fossil fuels) into the air. These gases trap the heat above us allowing the earth's surface temperature to rise. This in turn gives rise to a multitude of problems we are presently facing and the problems will only increase if we don't take action.
Probably the most important thing you can do is become aware of the science behind climate change. With the facts and understanding you can help others to understand our current situation and then we can collectively begin to address the problem. Go to the websites 350.org, ucsusa.org, climate.org, or our own 350amsamoa.blogspot. These sites and others will lead you towards an understanding of the problems and suggest how you can make a difference.
We the members of 350.org and our local chapter the 350 Environment Club of American Samoa, do wish you a happy Earth Day and we hope you will strongly consider what your role can be in making our island and planet what it once was.