Earth Day 2021: Restore our earth

  • Published
  • By 86th Civil Engineer Squadron
  • 86th Civil Engineer Group

When life around the globe returns to normal, our world cannot return to business-as-usual.

Our global community has been shocked by the largest global crisis in a generation. COVID-19 has shown us the necessity of thinking ahead, but the next crises are already on their way. Climate change, species loss, pandemics and massive natural disasters might define the future — unless we do something now. We have the solutions, both natural and technological… we just need the will.

The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif.  Inspired by the student antiwar movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.  More than 20 million Americans demonstrated for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.  The event was so successful, that in Dec. 1970 Congress authorized the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.  As a result, Americans began honoring Earth Day on the 22nd of April every year. 

The drive for a clean environment continues with even more urgency, as effects of climate change become more apparent every day.  Scientists worldwide have amassed evidence suggesting that the need to take action now is more important than ever.  As we have seen in recent news, larger, and more frequent, events such as floods, storms and other natural catastrophes are occurring; costing millions of lives and destroying the livelihood of even more.  If we do not rethink our consumer behavior, we could steer our communities into an ecological crisis.  We do not have to give up our lifestyles in order to affect a change; we only need to make smarter decisions.  Small changes in our lifestyle can make a big difference.  And everyone can do them without experiencing a significant disruption to their day to day business. 

There is a popular movement toward “sustainable consumerism” occurring in Europe and the U.S.; which promotes purchasing goods that are produced with the minimum amount of resources consumed in the production of those goods.  A large supermarket provides goods that are grown thousands of miles away, sometimes in a location that requires extensive irrigation. Why not change the demand signal by going to a local farmer’s market?  Farmer’s markets require minimal resources in order to produce goods that provide as much, if not more, benefit to the consumer - you.  Did you know that many nearby cities, including Kaiserslautern, hold regular Farmer’s Markets? And there are even more possibilities to easily change the negative impact by doing simple things such as changing your conventional light bulbs to energy-saving bulbs, such as LED (light emitting diode) or CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs.  These bulbs are more efficient and use 80% less energy while lasting up to 10 times longer.  Imagine, just replacing 10 bulbs could pay for themselves within one year, saving you about $25 annually, and reducing 14 kg of carbon emissions from being produced by electrical companies each year.  Additionally, turning off electronics, or even unplugging them, instead of keeping them on standby, will save both energy and money, as will washing your clothes at a lower temperature to reduce hot water bills.  Do you need to use your car for short distances? Walking is healthy and your wallet will be grateful.  Finally, did you know that for every degree Celsius less in room temperature, you will consume about 10% less energy – again a win/win situation for your wallet and for the environment?

Each year, Earth Day campaigners call for events with an annual altering theme.  In the US, the 2021 Earth Day theme is “Restore our earth."

Focusing on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. It is up to each and every one of us to Restore Our Earth not just because we care about the natural world, but because we live on it. We all need a healthy Earth to support our jobs, livelihoods, health & survival, and happiness. A healthy planet is not an option — it is a necessity.

More than 1 billion people in 192 countries now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. Today, we invite you to be a part of Earth Day and to help further climate action across the globe.

How can you contribute?

Get informed
Knowledge is power. Learn more about the science behind our climate challenge and the responsibility that all sectors hold in addressing the issue. Add your voice to the issues that are shaping the climate debate as well as emerging, evidence-based data, that directly relates to changes in our climate.

Hold yourself accountable
Take inventory of your own personal impact on the planet. Consider offsetting carbon emissions by investing in clean and renewable energy projects around the world that support local communities, drive sustainable development, and protect our planet.

Unplug
Can you use energy more efficiently at home? Unplug items when they aren’t in use; buy goods with high energy-efficient standards; and consider making the switch to renewable energy. All of these can help to help reduce your personal impact.

Travel smarter
Transportation is now the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S. No matter where you live, travel by car or airplane contributes heavily to our shared carbon footprint. Take public transit, bike, or walk when possible – it’s good for your health, your wallet, and the planet.

Climate action, one bite at a time
Your food’s carbon footprint, called its foodprint, is the greenhouse gas emissions produced by growing, harvesting, processing, transporting, cooking, and disposing of the food we eat. Research has revealed the tremendous impact that the mass production of meat, dairy, and eggs has on our planet.

Additionally, food waste is an enormous ‘hidden’ contributor to climate change. In fact, if global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China and the U.S. The carbon footprint of this wasted food is about 3.3 billion tons of CO2. Luckily, there has never been a better time to join efforts to reduce our carbon footprint through food choices. Enjoy more plant-based meals, reduce your food waste altogether, and compost your food scraps. Bon app├ętit!

Shop smarter
Do you know where your money is going? Support companies driven by sustainability and committed to transparency throughout the supply chain. Your power as a consumer can be enormously impactful; so if you’re in the dark or unhappy with a company’s impact on the planet, make your voice known! Shop smarter with thoughtful purchasing to minimize waste, and consider reused and pre-loved items to take part in the circular economy and keep goods out from filling our already overflowing landfills.

How Does the KMC Officially Celebrate Earth Day 2021?

The most common practice is to plant new trees, which is also the biggest event being held on Ramstein Air Base in conjunction to the Mud Run event taking place from 21-23 April. 

For more environmental information, please contact the 86th Civil Engineer Squadron Installation Management Flight at 480-5086/7712 or email us at 86ces.cea@us.af.mil.  We are a group of  professionals, dealing with natural resources, landscape protection, recycling, hazardous waste and material management, air emissions, contaminated soil remediation and other related topics. We are always ready and happy to support you and answer any environmental question or issue you may have. For more information about the 86 CEG great mud run event, please contact sarah.walser@us.af.mil.