Earth Day Is April 22 Water, Water, Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink

This famous line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is becoming ever more true for our planet with each succeeding Earth Day. Sea levels are rising as polar ice and glaciers melt at an ever-increasing pace. At the same time, California faces an historic drought, and other parts of our country and the world are seeing either too little precipitation or too much too fast to replenish aquifers. 

A recent television documentary focusing on the rapidly retreating glaciers in the Alps called them “Europe’s water towers.” A similar description can be applied to the glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro, which have provided water for drinking and raising crops for surrounding areas of East Africa. But Kilimanjaro too is losing its snows. Climate change is a clear and alarming process to a majority of scientists, and is becoming more obvious to ordinary people with eyes to see. Leading climate scientists estimate that we have until 2030 to take action to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, before it becomes a runaway train.

Climate change deniers are in the minority. But they hold the levers of power in this country. From the governor of Florida, a state more threatened by “water, water everywhere” than perhaps any other, to the fossil fuel barons like the Koch Brothers, to organizations like The Heartland Institute that spread anti-scientific untruths, the deniers push efforts in Congress and state legislatures to defeat any action to deal with the near and present dangers posed by climate change. 

 With Earth Day upon us, we need to speak out, to educate, to participate in demonstrations, and to pressure the Congress and state legislatures to pass pro-earth legislation. We need to stand behind President Obama’s strong initiatives to regulate and reduce carbon emissions and foster earth-friendly energy production. We can take our own individual steps through increased recycling, buying as much locally-produced food and manufactured items as possible, reducing use of automobiles, and fostering urban green spaces.

Jean Stewart
Committee for Public Policy and Political Action

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