There's many reasons that Earth Day brings out the worst in us. Here's a list of things to keep in mind for next week when everyone thinks that things are just swell because they decided to recycle for one day.
1. The Problem is Not Improving
FACT: We are in the midst of an 'extinction event' known as the Holocene extinction event. A sizeable fraction of these extinctions are occurring in the rainforests. That means cattle grazing, and what we are growing to feed the cattle is a huge culprit. That means logging is huge culprit. That means we are in really big trouble. Scientists estimate that during the last century, up to two million species have become extinct - thats 140,000 species per year (based on Species-area theory). Overall, the Holocene extinction event is most significantly characterized by the presence of man-made driving factors and its very short geological timescale (tens to thousands of years) compared to most other extinction events.
FACT: The rate of resource consumption, land usage, deforestation, pollution, desertification, overfishing, energy consumption is not even slowing down - in fact it's accelerating. The annual quantity of resources extracted from global ecosystems rose from 40 to 53 billion tons between 1980 and 2002 – an increase of one third within only 22 years. And scenarios of future developments show that consumption will continue to rise (up to an estimated 80 billion tons in the year 2020), if no political actions are taken to slow down this trend. (http://www.seri.at)
2. The Three Fat Elephants in the Living Room
FACT: Human overpopulation is one of the leading causes of environmental degradation. This is something people don't want to talk about or address. Instead we say, "carry a canvas bag to the grocery store", when we should be saying "Don't reproduce - adopt." My opinon on child-bearing is the same as my opinion on purchasing pets: why make more when there are so many that already need good homes?
FACT: We are approaching a point of a total food crisis. In addition to overpopulation, changes impacting Earth's ability to function as a suitable habitat for human beings, such as global warming, desertification, overfishing, peak oil, soil degradation, deforestation, aquifer depletion and other environmental problems caused by industrialization, will significantly reduce food production or factors necessary for well-being. Meanwhile the wealthiest 20 percent of the world's population consumes 80 percent of the goods and services produced from Earth's resources.
FACT: Eating meat and dairy causes global warming. Just last year the United Nations did a report called 'Livestock's Long Shadow' that revealed global livestock production is more responsible for global warming than the transportation sector. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity, yet we rarely see or hear anything about going veg to slow global warming.
3. Blatant Greenwashing
If you are sick of seeing companies that are notorious polluters and resource-gluttons trying to paint a green picture of themselves, join the club. See CorpWatch's Greewashing Awards.
green*wash: (gr~en-wosh) -washers, -washing, -washed 1.) The phenomenon of socially and environmentally destructive corporations attempting to preserve and expand their markets by posing as friends of the environment and leaders in the struggle to eradicate poverty. 2) Environmental whitewash. 3) Any attempt to brainwash consumers or policy makers into believing polluting mega-corporations are the key to environmentally sound sustainable development
Greenwashing Index is a great resource! It's home of the world’s first online interactive forum that allows consumers to evaluate real advertisements making environmental claims.