Earth Day is 48 years old this year. You might think for people who have been working in the environmental trenches for a while, it’s a little been-there-done-that. But, for most of the long-timers, that’s definitely not the case. Many participated in that very first celebration and, much as we loved Earth Day #1, each year since then has brought an ever-deepening awareness of the incredible gifts we’re given every day by this little blue planet – and of the increasing peril those gifts, and we, are facing. That peril itself can be seen as a kind of dark gift, though, providing serious motivation to stay in the movement and on the job.
An even better motivator, though, is the constant influx of new energy.
Each year, tens of thousands of “Generation Next” youth around the world join the movement. They show up to table and canvass, petition, make calls, and pledge, and perhaps most importantly, to vote. This generation understands that their future is at stake, and many of them are taking matters into their own hands.
Unfortunately, our elected officials don’t always prioritize the environment.
It’s up to us to change that.
Dane Strother, a political communication strategist, gets right to the point in a recent article in the Washington Post:
“The failure of our national leaders to take climate change seriously may be both cause and consequence of environmentalists’ low voting rates…”
A recent study indicates that likely voters – defined as those who voted in the last couple of elections – are critically important to determining the issues candidates care about. But in that very group, the environment ranked much lower than other issues. Why? It seems people who rank the environment as their top priority are up to 50% less likely to vote!
If we want to save our forests, oceans, river, streams, and planet, that’s got to change. Our voices must start to matter in the political ecosystem.
In addition to recognizing the gift of our environment, let’s give a shout out and recognize a debt of gratitude to the young people who #Stand4Forests here in Georgia and throughout the Southeast. Let’s thank them for taking action on the streets, and let’s hope they’ll all register to VOTE for planet Earth.