Spring is finally here, and I am grateful for the warmer, sunny days and the serenading frogs that have emerged from hibernation. My garden is starting to pop with the yellow forsythia bushes, pink tulips, and wild purple violets as I prepare my garden beds for the season.
A garden takes patience, ingenuity, contemplation, and hard work. It has been worth every moment over the last 20 plus years. This space offers me a place to connect with nature, contemplate my worries, hammer out my frustrations, and spread unconditional love. I am better spiritually because of my contributions, and so is my garden. Our Blue planet is no different. As we celebrate 53 years of Earth Day and the investments we’ve made as a global community, let’s reflect on where we are, what’s working, and what needs our attention.
I have been cultivating my garden for over 20 years. Borrowing plant starts from wherever and whomever I can. I have generations of my family represented in my garden, along with the families of old friends and generous strangers. Every Spring, I meander through to see where we stand. What’s doing well, what isn’t doing well, and what needs attention. Several investors help me along the way: squirrels move the bulbs, the watershed helps move the earth around, bees spread the flowers, and my husband moves the rocks. Without all these contributions, our garden would not be the prosperous and fruitful endeavor it has come to be. Yes, it can be a lot of work; digging, pruning, cutting, mulching, weeding, dirty fingernails, and endless bug bites. Yet, when I sit quietly under the shade of the 50-year-old oak tree listening to the choir of birds carrying on throughout the garden, I feel a deep spiritual connection to my environment.
Photo credit: Matt Lynch (IG: @mattlynchphoto)
Investing time is a powerful way to enhance our understanding of the world and influence our behavior. One of my favorite ways to do this is by watching films. Here are a few environmental films worthy of your time:
- The Elephant Whisperers – This Oscar-winning short film illustrates how an indigenous couple’s dedication to an orphaned elephant named Raghu creates a powerful and lifelong connection based on love and the understanding of creatures great and small.
- Part of the Pack – The haunting sound of a howling wolf can invoke fear and admiration for a species symbolic of true wilderness and mysterious adventure. Stories and folklore throughout multiple cultures have depicted this beautiful creature as an iconic specimen of what is considered instinctively wild yet symbiotic with the companionship of men. This documentary addresses the complex relationship between wolves and humans and nature’s uncompromising intentions.
- Going Circular – This fascinating documentary redefines the concepts behind the industries that shape our world by introducing an innovative approach called circularity. Discover new ways to view our planet’s future elimination of waste and saving resources by focusing on living within the Earth’s natural boundaries.
- A River’s Last Chance – In a remote area of Northern California runs the Eel River. Described by many as a paradise of nature, this river is one of the last habitats supporting salmon and steelhead trout species. Environmental extremities plaguing The Eel River include flooding, drought, overfishing, and abusive logging, in addition to the industrial competition of a hydropower dam, the underground cannabis economy, and profitable wine industries. Can a balance be established to support both the natural and economic worlds the Eel River plays an intricate role in sustaining?
- Down To Earth with Zac Efron – This episodic Netflix docuseries highlights world traveling in search of sustainable living throughout different cultures to influence our everyday lives. Real solution-based examples create a circular understanding of how shared connections are our best solution to saving our planet and ourselves.
- Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West – A wake-up call to help save the American Mustang in the wild. Mismanaged by outdated government programs, over 60,000 Mustangs have been removed from public lands and placed in holding areas awaiting their sale to slaughter buyers for overseas markets. Help save this iconic symbol of the American West.
Our oceans make up an enormous amount of our environment on Earth. Without sustainable healthy oceans, the impact on our planet will make life on Earth impossible. Here are some fascinating ways ocean advocates are investing in our oceans to make sure that doesn’t happen:
- Seacology – This international environmental nonprofit focuses on saving endangered species, habitats, and cultures of islands throughout the world. Global climate change has weakened ecosystems within ocean habitats. Seagrass degradation awareness is critical in implementing aggressive solutions to save one of the world’s most threatened habitats.
- Million Mangrove Challenge – Plant Trees – This project from the nonprofit OnlyOne reforests coastal habitats, provides local employment, and tackles the climate crisis by locking carbon in the soil below mangrove roots.
- U.N. High Seas Treaty – The United Nations finalized an international treaty laying the groundwork for global collaboration to tackle the ocean’s unprecedented threats like biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate change covering two-thirds of international waters.
- Our Ocean Conference 2023 – Panama set the tone as this year’s host of the Our Ocean Conference with their commitment to expanding its marine protected areas to more than 50%. This impactful investment will help support migration paths and homes of many species, including 104 endangered and threatened shark populations. This year’s conference secured $20 billion in commitments for marine biodiversity.
- The United States’ commitment focuses on 12 programs addressing climate change, ocean protection, and healthy ecosystems. The Save Our Seas Initiative combats ocean plastic pollution in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. The Resilient Coastal Communities partnership funds the creation of sustainable blue economies on a global scale. The Por La Pesca Initiative addresses illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in national and international waters in cooperation with sustainable fisheries in Peru and Ecuador. The Effective Marine Conservation program conserves Indonesia’s marine biodiversity management of national and regional marine protected areas.
- The Ocean Cleanup – This nonprofit is determined to succeed in the largest ocean cleanup of our time. With over 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in our oceans, this cleanup job is beyond enormous. By partnering with the United Nations Development Programme, The Ocean Cleanup is on track to extract 90% of floating plastics from the ocean by 2040.
- Costa Rica Expands Cocos Island National Park – The extension of Cocos Island National Park by 27 times its size is a pinnacle example to other countries of the importance of protecting our vital oceans. This region, in the eastern tropical Pacific, is home to endangered species of sharks, sea turtles, and marine migratory highways.
- International Shark Finning Bans and Policies – Sharks are the apex predators of our oceans and the conservators of healthy and biodiverse oceanic ecosystems. Without them, our ocean’s ecosystems will collapse, negatively impacting all ecosystems. In December 2022, The United States passed legislation banning the buying and selling of shark fins in the U.S.
- Hawaii Becomes First State To Ban Shark Fishing Entirely– Hawaii has honored its environment, commerce, and culture by exemplifying the importance of protecting sharks and the ecosystems they safeguard.
- Diver Has Been Friends With Tiger Shark For 20 Years! – Meet Emma, the sweetest Tiger shark I would LOVE to call my friend.
- Rewilding Baby Zebra Sharks In Indonesia – For the very first time, endangered baby zebra sharks are being reintroduced into their native waters with the help of 15 aquariums. This global effort by ReShark is “an international collective of over 60 conservation organizations, aquariums, and government agencies dedicated to recovering threatened sharks and rays around the world.”
Efforts to reestablish native species into their natural environments are necessary for fighting climate change and helping cultivate the natural balance required for healthy habitats, abundant wildlife populations, and a healthier planet. These magnificent species are finding their way to get back to their native lands, eager for another chance to live and prosper:
- Cheetahs Come Back To India After 70 Years – Six months ago, cheetahs were rewilded back into India at the Kuno National Park Wildlife Sanctuary, and their prospects couldn’t look better. Just last month, four healthy and adorable cubs were born to Siyaya as a testament to the species’ rightful presence in their native environment thanks to the efforts of Project Cheetah.
- Wild Horse Refuge – This wild horse sanctuary, occupying over 22,000 acres in northwestern Colorado, was established by the nonprofit organization The Wild Animal Sanctuary as a direct response to the wild horse round-up operations conducted by the Bureau of Land Management. The goal of the sanctuary is to provide a beautiful refuge to as many as 500 wild horses to ensure this iconic symbol continues to establish its rightful place in the West.
- Saint Louis Zoo | Wildcare Park – This is an exciting new addition to my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. The STL Zoo has always been one of the best gems in our city. This expansion is a continuation of the STL Zoo’s efforts to conserve and ensure animal species around the world. One such extraordinary species is the American Red Wolf. With less than 20 remaining in the wild, the new Wildcare Park has dedicated twenty acres to 9 red wolves. Over time, the rewilding of future offspring back into their natural habitat will hopefully reestablish their population in the wild.
- Congolese Government Elevates Conservation Status of Great Ape Habitat – The Saint Louis Zoo celebrates its conservation efforts through research collaboration and funding in partnering with the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project.
Legislation is a critical tool in helping to advance green initiatives and address the consequences of climate change. It wasn’t that long ago that global warming was considered an unsubstantiated concept. Mother Nature is fierce energy. We know better now. Our planet needs our unwavering support so she can support us. Here are some critical pieces of legislation recently passed to further our steadfast support:
- Inflation Reduction Act – On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, marking the most significant action Congress has taken on clean energy and climate change in our nation’s history.
- The Clean Water Act – On September 15, 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the establishment of a new visionary amendment to the Clean Water Act. This amendment highlights the collaboration of innovative approaches from states, territories, and tribes to identify ways to protect and restore water quality, use limited resources, and develop solutions to the challenges of sustaining quality water resources.
- Global Goal to Protect 30% of Lands and Waters by 2030 – On December 19, 2022, at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Canada, governments across the globe committed to a landmark agreement to conserve at least 30% of lands and waters by 2030, to halt and reverse nature loss.
Photo credit: Pixabay