You’ve traveled the globe, what does the earth mean to you – is it an ocean with a beach somewhere, is it looking up at a dark night sky and seeing the stars laid out above? Is it diving to see what lives below, or walking through the lava left by a volcano? Is it a rainforest, rafting on a river, hiking in the woods? Maybe it’s climbing up a frozen mountain or marveling above karsts.
Having traveled to amazing, beautiful places, often our appreciation for earth is heightened by what we have seen and what we believe is possible based on what we’ve seen. You’ve probably seen the oceans the way they were meant to be seen, or snorkeled/dived in the Great Barrier Reef, seen Mt. Everest, traveled to Iceland, wandered pristine hills in some countryside. Those picturesque moments are threatened by numerous things, mining, new infrastructure/expansion, climate change, etc. Perhaps your experiences have changed the way you perceive your role in how we maintain and develop earth for human use.
If you’ve been to one of the ancient lakes – think Baikal or Titicaca you may be interested in the research that the National Science Foundation is funding into how to preserve lakes increasingly threatened by warming waters, invasive species, and runoff pollution.
Coming back may be a call to action. Does it entail seeking out sustainable goods, less plastic in the packaging of items, volunteering for watershed management, seeking out and donating to green spaces or dark skies or scientific research? The ways to engage are numerous.
With Earth Day rapidly approaching, if this topic speaks to you, it might be time to seek out a group with which you can volunteer. If you are in the DC area the Annual Watershed Cleanup is ongoing with multiple sites and times to volunteer. Volunteering for short stints like this are a great way to develop your home community and find people involved in causes similar to yours, even if inspired by different experiences.
If you need some inspiration this Earth Day and a reminder of what we’re looking at, everyday wherever you are, check out NASA’s #PictureEarth tag all day.
And if air quality is your thing, have you thought about looking at it indoors? Americans spend a shocking amount of time indoors as this New Yorker article explains and often have hidden air quality issues. While it doesn’t offer solutions, I recently was listening to how the guys who developed Method Cleaning products started their business at How I Built This – while not necessarily getting rid of VOCs, it might have some thoughts on what we purchase and how we incentivize industry to adopt the same values based on our consumer habits.