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Despite sense of urgency, activists say environment still a 'politically inconsequential' issue

Last Updated Apr 22, 2019 at 7:36 am MDT


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –¬†Activists say it’s a crisis that can’t wait another minute for a coordinated global response.

From increasing electric vehicle sales to the way we recycle, a lot has changed since the first ever Earth Day on April 22, 1970.

However, the planet is facing dire consequences after a century of heavy carbon consumption, and activists are speaking out with the hopes of turning the 49th annual Earth Day into year-round action.

In an op-ed, President of the Earth Day Network Kathleen Rogers and We Don’t Have Time CEO Ingmar Rentzhog say Earth Day has to be about launching into a greater effort: to shift policy and public support for the environment.

“It is the people’s day, the one inspired by 20 million boots on the ground in 1970,” the op-ed reads. “The world is mobilizing again, tapping into the power of a conscious, concerned, and coordinated global citizenry to meet a crisis that can’t wait another minute.”

The authors point to ocean acidification, fresh water depletion, and an epidemic of extinction as examples of a dire situation.

However, despite the planet facing “major tipping points on climate change,” the pair says “the environment is not a top-tier political issue. Anywhere!”

“Most people do voice care about the environment. But very few of them vote for candidates primarily based on their environmental stances. Politicians know they can shred environmental safeguards without suffering political consequences.”

After the world’s annual carbon emissions reached an all-time high last year — which was the fourth hottest on record and saw massive wildfires — Rogers and Rentzhog add the environment must become a top-tier political issue around the world if we are to weather the storm that is global warming.

Both groups plan to “raise the stakes” and focus on showing leaders that a lack of support for policies and technologies that address the environment will have consequences.

They would like to see climate change action become the single-most important vote issue across the globe, and plan to “mobilize a huge, diverse, intense movement in the recognition that the crisis is urgent and that we don’t have time.”

Rogers and Rentzhog are not alone — actor and environmentalist Robert Redford also took the opportunity on the 49th annual Earth Day to ask “What will it take for our short-sighted leadership to stop questioning the reality of this global crisis?”