So, It's Earth Day
I've always felt like Earth Day is just another Hallmark holiday meant to get me to buy more or do more. It rubs me the wrong way. Every news outlet will have ten tips on how to be green. Here's a few you'll inevitably hear - recycle, ride your bike to work, don't eat cows. Blah blah blah.
Well, I'm not going to guilt you into riding your bike to work, but more power to you if you enjoy doing it. I will, on the other hand, tell you why I think nature is awesome along with some ideas on what might actually allow our grandchildren to have a future on this very cool planet of ours.
This Is What's Awesome About Nature
My four-year-old daughter can spend 45 minutes digging for worms with her friends. Uninterrupted. Now that's entertainment!
As soon as my son comes home from school he runs outside to find lizards. Catch and release. Day after day. He never seems to get tired of it. You can't beat free pets that you don't need to feed!
When we go skiing and there's actually snow on the ground beyond the ski resort, my son can spend the entire day playing in the snow. Building igloos, sledding, snowball fights. I have to force him and his friends to come inside to eat. Their teeth are chattering and their toes are frozen but no one complains. It's just so fun, they say.
As a six-year-old, my favorite thing to do was crab fishing with my best friend, Franci. We would sit hunched over the same rocks for hours, praying that we'd catch even the teeniest, tiniest crab that we could put into our buckets. When we finally caught something we'd marvel at our accomplishment, until some lame adult would make us throw them back into the water.
Now, as a lame adult who forces her son to release those lizards, I'd still rather go for a hike with my husband than to an over-priced restaurant where we stare at each other and try to think of something to say that isn't about the kids. After years and years of dates with the same man, we can both agree that our best times are when we head outdoors.
This Is What Can Actually Help Save The Earth
I could go on and on about all the things that are cool about nature, but if you're reading this you probably have your own list. Maybe you love sitting by the ocean. Climbing trees. Whatever your thing is, keep it in mind, because we need to remember what it is that we're protecting.
Then think big picture. Beyond just solar panels and bike lanes. Not that solar panels and bike lanes aren't a good start, it's just that we need something revolutionary.
If we are going to spend time and money on ending climate change and improving our environment, then it needs to be spent wisely. Spending it wisely means governments need to put a great deal of money into research and development to create more efficient energy sources than fossil fuels, according to economist and self-proclaimed skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg.
Apparently, Bill Gates is thinking along the same lines, and he's a pretty smart guy.
Gates and a bunch of other super-rich and powerful guys launched Breakthrough Energy last year with a goal of a zero-emissions future through investments in research and development. Their focus is on electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and buildings.
"Some of these investments will result in ideas that move forward and some won’t; developing some may even make work on others unnecessary. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition believes, though, that all of them are avenues worth investigating to get the world to a zero-emissions future. Nobody knows yet what the energy mix of tomorrow is, so investors need to explore all possible paths," according to the Breakthrough Energy website.
Plant The Seeds. Stay Optimistic
This Earth Day, take your kids outside and do something fun. Remember why this world is worth saving. Ride your bike or plant a tree with your kids. Not because it's going to end climate change or save the world but because we need the next generation to care enough about nature in order to want to save it.
"I'm so optimistic about the world’s ability to make a miracle happen that I’m willing to make a prediction. Within the next 15 years—and especially if young people get involved—I expect the world will discover a clean energy breakthrough that will save our planet and power our world."
- Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and philanthropist