8 Ways to Celebrate this Amazing Planet

As many of you may well know by now, It’s Earth day!!! Or as I like to think about it, “The holiest day of the year for Natural Resource scientists.”

The day we share videos of coral reefs, watch documentaries and go to restaurants with our own Tupperware, reusable straws and tote bags. (Click here to find yourself a cool new animal themed tote!)

While the theme of Earth Day has a lot of really awesome and really important things and activities tied to it, I just want to make one thing perfectly clear.

Dawn at Adolph Thomae Jr. County Park in Rio Hondo, Texas, U.S.

This Planet deserves more than just a single day to be loved. We rely on her. Not to mention all of her inhabitants and features to keep not only us, but all the plants, fungi, microbes and animals that make this little blue dot home. So only celebrating this home on one day a year shouldn’t feel like enough. This post is full of things that can be done to celebrate Earth the other 364.25 days of the year. The best part? None of these are hard to do.

Learning

“Be curious, not judgmental.”

~Walt Whitman~

The first group of ways to celebrate our shared home are just to learn what you can about the planet and being so curious that you can truly appreciate how amazing this planet is! There’s a reason that children enjoy the world much more than adults do. They wield the most powerful weapon against the issues we face. Unadulterated Curiosity.

Little kids love to pull things apart, ask questions and follow as many trails to as many answers as possible. So let’s be a little more childish in being willing to learn more about the world we live on that supplies for us!

1. listen

This is probably the most versatile option. The average amount of time people are spending listening to music is gradually increasing every year. So you could take a little bit of time out of your commute, shift or workout to listen to some really cool stuff that will ultimately help you learn about the world around you!

My first suggestion is to listen to the chill, PG-13+, insanely funny and educational podcast Ologies by Alie Ward. The episodes are on average about an hour to an hour and 15 min and are so funny that you can’t help but binge. Uncovering the strange and revolutionary sciences, studies and personalities of people, plants, fungi and minerals alike. The motto of the podcast is “Ask smart people dumb questions because they really like it and you’ll learn something awesome in the process.” I personally listen to this podcast when getting ready for work and have made it a game to take a sip of coffee every time she says “Oh my God” and finish the cup anytime she describes what a cloaca is.

Ologies is available wherever you listen to podcasts and music, Click here to visit the website and listen to some REALLY cool stuff!

2. Read

I know that reading isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do, so I’ll keep this list down to the books and publications I love because they’re just so entertaining you can’t put the book or paper down and I’ll provide links and prices to the books available on Amazon.

By far, my favorite news source for environmental topics (Or other issues) is the United Kingdom born paper called The Guardian. I love it because it’s not like reading scientific journals but they do feature a lot of scientific information and citations. I also am a sucker for their method of organization on the website. While it’s based in the UK, they have a world-wide reach with specific websites dedicated to your specific country and giving you the headlines that matter most to the country you’re in now!

There are a plethora of books that I would recommend to you but I will limit myself to just 2 of the most interesting that I’ve finished.

My first book recommendation is Matt Simon‘s “The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar” ($12 hardcover on Amazon). If you just want to learn about the coolest and weirdest animals to walk the planet, this is the book for you. It’s 272 pages of natural entertainment, the weirdest behaviors and proof that fact is often stranger than fiction. Each chapter is so intriguing that you’ll wind up spending 2.5 hours just reading and finish half of the book because you simply couldn’t put it down.

For example, one chapter talks just about the strange and nightmarish way a species of marine snails paralyzes and swallows shoals of fish alive. No, you didn’t read that wrong. A snail the size of your fist paralyzes nearby fish without touching them and then swallows small shoals (not just individuals) alive. For more information, you’re going to have to get the book.

The other is the book that got me back into reading. During the 2017-2018 school year, I was really into the ocean. Like, on the verge of obsession. The thing that kicked it off was an amazing book written by none other than the Queen of the Deep herself, Dr. Sylvia Earle titled, “The World is Blue: How our fate and the Ocean’s are one.” ($12 Paperback on Amazon)

In this book, you can truly get a view of the intricacies of the marine environment and how every part of our world relies on the oceans we share to be healthy. You don’t have to live on an island, be a fisher man or woman or go to the beach every day to care about the health of our oceans. They supply us with 40-50% or more of all the oxygen we breathe, storms that water inland crops, and keep us from baking on land.

Dr. Earle also calls people to take action in the efforts of fighting the changing seas. Calling to change the ways we fish, govern the seas, collect oil, mine, manage and communicate the health of the oceans to ensure the best possible outcome not just for human life, but the Immense life that exists beneath the waves.

If you are at all interested in the awesome power of the seas, this is the book for you.

3. Watch

This is probably my favorite section because it gets so fun so fast! Binge-worthy YouTube videos or awesome documentaries that will keep you entertained and thoroughly educated about the environment and world issues.

Literally me watching any documentary series.

YouTube has become a hub of shareable videos, and one video in particular is doing a lot of good for the environment. On April 19, 2019, Rapper Lil’ Dicky released a video for a song called “Earth.” The goal of the song: to raise awareness for the issues facing the world in an artistic way. All the proceeds from the viewing, sharing and clicks on the video go to organizations that will help fight climate change around the world. In its first 3 days online, it already had 22 million views and may have raised minimum $191 thousand from Spotify streams alone!

YouTube is also home to the channel PBS Eons that explores all your natural history questions ranging from were there aquatic sloths, what color were dinosaurs and has the climate ever changed this much before!

If you want something more in the realm of feature films about the environment, look no farther than Netflix. Netflix might not seem like a platform made for educational nature documentaries, but it hosts a relatively large amount of great quality documentary series from the BBC, PBS Nature, Nova, National Geographic along with some astounding Netflix Originals like Emmy award winning Chasing Coral and their newest and beautifully shot documentary series Our Planet.

An amazing scene from Netflix’s Our Planet of two individuals of the rarest leopard species.

If documentaries are your thing, make a bag of popcorn, invite some friends over and watch as you drink ginger ale from a wine glass. You’ll feel great. Trust me.

4. Experience the earth

The best way to learn about planet is just to experience it. Visit your local accredited zoo or aquarium and ask all the questions that appear in your curious mind. Go hiking and take pictures of the gorgeous landscapes. Go camping and try to identify the weird and wonderful sounds that fill the nighttime air. The possibilities are endless for ways that you can experience the wonders of the planet.

(Keep an eye out, I’ll be releasing a blog post all about how to experience the outdoors in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way very soon.)

Act

Learning something can only get you so far. What you know means absolutely nothing if you aren’t acting on that knowledge. But what can we do to help the Earth? I mean we’re just two individuals out of 7.6 billion humans and one species out of over 8 billion.

5. Advocate

There are a million and one things in the natural world that need help but more importantly that desperately need someone willing to talk about them and raise just a little bit of awareness. Think about any major movement in history. It started with just a few people deciding to advocate for a change that actually happened.

Being an advocate for something nature related doesn’t mean swapping a house for a tent, getting dreadlocks, or shouting profanities to every person on the street with a single-use bottle or fur coat. You can be an advocate just by talking about the issue, signing a petition you think will help raise awareness for an issue, making and selling art to go to organizations that are helping the cause you agree with.

6. Donate

Ouch. I think i just felt every eye that was reading this post roll to the farthest reaches of Essos and return to give the, “Oh great” stare.

But in all seriousness, the best way to support the people that are working to change policies, rewrite our future and further science is simply by helping them fund the work they do. In March of this year, a major budget cut in the funding for scientific research was proposed with the largest cuts at around 36% of original budgets. This makes it nearly impossible for organizations to get government funding for research, proposals and actually doing field work.

Donations from people are the only ways a lot of scientists can do their work in a timely way so they don’t have to wait for a drop from the rapidly drying well of government grants and funds.

7. Be the change

If you want to see a change in the world, be it. Lead by example.

  • If you hate how palm oil plantations affect the biodiversity of the oldest jungles on earth, then look at what you buy and scan it with the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Palm Oil Shopping app to see if it was harvested in a sustainable way.
  • If Plastic pollution is a big topic for you, buy some reusable shopping bags for your next grocery store trip, Or invest in a reusable water bottle so you can spend less on buying plastic water bottles.
  • If you want to make sure the ocean stays healthy and we aren’t fishing out more than we need, download the Seafood Watch Mobile app to see if the fish, crustaceans or shellfish you buy are being collected to keep the ocean healthy.
  • If the issue is that native species don’t have habitat in your area, read this post to learn about how to make your yard or open space an oasis for native species.
  • If you’re worried about carbon pollution, bike or walk if weather and local climate permit, set up a carpool or take public transportation. Also cut down on unnecessary electrical use. I heard that empty rooms love the dark.
  • If you don’t know what to worry about but want to save money, cut down on the amount of beef you buy/eat. Beef is really expensive on the wallet and the environment. Swapping ground beef with ground turkey can get you abut twice as much food for the same amount of money, and it GREATLY cuts the amount of greenhouse gasses released in the atmosphere.

It would be rude and unimaginable to ask someone else to make changes if you aren’t actively trying to make them yourself. So being the embodiment of change makes people more likely to make those changes themselves. You wouldn’t trust someone who told you to climb a mountain if they hadn’t seen a mountain in their life. It’s like a proverb I heard, “never trust a skinny baker.”

Teach

This is the part where you get to be the way people learn about the environment. Let people know why public transportation is important. Why climate Change is an issue. Don’t forget assure them that while the prospects seem bleak, there are still things that one human can do that foster hope. That fact can mean all the difference for those that aren’t aware of the issue.

8. Have hope

Last school year, I was in a class called Wildlife management and Conservation. Around the end of the semester was the topic we all knew had to come up, and all dreaded talking about. It was the Climate Change lesson. In that day we talked about ocean acidification, species extinctions, lack of food and water, the collapse of the cultures that input the least to climate change and what a world without ice caps will look like.

At the end of that period, the class of around 250 people left silently. All sobered up from the scientific truths that we learned with sources cited and results thoroughly explained and repeated. There was a sense of gloom in that room that just existed with nearly everyone who left that room. After that class, a few friends and I went to a dining hall and talked about the lecture. It was becoming clear to me that the topic of the future of climate change had shaken them so much that it had become a clear mood killer. So I offered to share my opinion of the lesson.

Maybe it’s the naivety of still being a fresh face in the field of Natural Resources, maybe it’s because I’ve always been a hopeless optimist but I was empowered by the lesson. I know that the future of Climate Change is an extremely depressing world but my logic was and still is this, “If we can cause all this bad for the environment unintentionally, then imagine how much good we can do if we’re actively trying to help the world.”

Hope. It’s what keeps people going. It’s what makes you feel like there’s sill something to fight for. It keeps you trying. It makes you believe that there is a way when plain logic says there’s nothing more.

Hope is what this picture means to me. In an area cleared and run over so much that the soil was hard as stone, this plant decided to make it a home. Baked, hardened and reduced to nothing more than an impromptu parking lot, it took hold and grew.

Teach the truth, but most importantly, teach hope.

Joyfully,

Sean Washington.

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