Saturday, April 22, will mark the forty-seventh annual Earth Day celebrations. Initially started in the United States, events are now held in over 193 countries to support environmental protection.1,2 Not surprisingly, this year an unprecedented number of scientists and science supporters will be marching in Washington, D.C. in an effort to educate and remind our leadership of the current and predicted changes due to climate change. Organizations and individuals will be planting trees, teaching about recycling and other worthy initiatives to help protect and heal our planet.
The need to protect our planet is beyond what we can do in a day. Environmental education and restoration needs to be part of our daily life—growing more of our own local food, reducing our plastic use, removing the millions of pounds of trash from our oceans, moving more towards clean energy use, the list is long. It can seem daunting at times and yet as we near 7.5 billion people globally3, every little bit each one of us does makes a difference.
Perhaps of equal concern is something many of us never thought we would need to address—our disconnection with nature. Never before have we had so many people, especially youth, out of touch with our natural environment. The health ramifications of this are very significant. The greater issue long-term is how will today’s youth, many of whom are living almost twenty–four-seven in climate controlled environments and buried in technology for work, school and play know the environment around them is changing? Will they care?
Earth Day 2017 falls on a Saturday this year. This creates a perfect opportunity to invite a child to engage in nature. The longer you can keep them outside this Saturday, the better for most kids. Looking for ideas? It can be as simple as planting seeds in a clay pot while explaining the joy of delayed gratification, the wonder of watching something grow and how this is where are food really comes from. Maybe you would rather take a hike? The United States National Park Service offers free admission for Earth Week4. Richard Louv’s book, Vitamin N5 , has chapters of ideas of how to engage in nature for people of all ages. Go camping, swimming in the ocean, fishing at a lake, play flashlight tag, picnic in a park-there are a lot of fun things to do. Allowing a child the opportunity to discover the awesomeness in nature just might be the best gift you can give them and the earth.