Earth Day is Monday, and environmentalists have a lot to celebrate this year. The environmental movement is experiencing rampant proliferation as people discover the true nature of the cause. No longer erroneously viewed as radical anti-capitalists, environmentalists are finally gaining the respect they deserve for defending our planet and its inhabitants.
While air pollution, rivers, and rain forests remain a deeply-rooted cause, people are now grasping the severity of the social implications that result from destroying our natural world. The linkage between global human rights and environmental protection has become more obvious, as has the correlation between sustainable land, resource management and poverty eradication. Environmental and human rights organizations have joined forces on their crusades towards a more compassionate world.
Environmentalists worldwide are transcending boundaries and empowering ordinary people to live extraordinary lives. Every day, activists perform towering feats of altruism. Their actions stem from a fervent belief that humanity should respect the earth’s bounty – not try to conquer it.
Our noble fight to save the planet encompasses so much more than tapped out aquifers and dying ecosystems. While some ethnocentric, benighted individuals believe that environmentalists embrace issues that are “emotionally urgent and easily grasped,” the reality is that many environmental problems plaguing our world are profound, and they affect the lives of millions.
To simple minds, issues such as groundwater pollution may appear superficial and insignificant in their lives. But to the countless families who have lost children to cancer and other illnesses resulting from toxic contaminants in the drinking water, or to the millions of people in this country who suffer from severe asthma and respiratory ailments worsened by hazardous pollutants in the air, issues of environmental degradation are not so easily grasped.
Surely it’s more convenient for skeptics to label environmentalists as religious ecological zealots rather than try to empathize with the nobility of our cause. Cynics of environmentalism have made earnest attempts to criticize us, but have frequently stalled short of raising sensible compelling arguments.
Let it be known that we welcome vibrant debate and criticism from skeptics. We thrive and flourish through this open flow of ideas and relish in the opportunity to dispel misconceptions that we are all out to sink the world’s economic markets.
Call us zealots, fanatics, whatever you like. But brace yourselves, cynics, as devout environmentalists like me continue to spread our idealistic philosophies across the globe. A new wave of greenness is taking over our nation, and this green has little to do with dead presidents.
Jackie Pitts is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science.