Greenland’s farmers are planting strawberries this year. It’s an odd choice for agriculturalists on an almost uninhabitable glacial island, but for the last few years more and more of the country has been opening up to farming and oil exploration. It means an economic boom for Greenland in the short term, but Greenlanders know that while they watch their glaciers melt and the sea level rise, their prosperity is finite. They are the easy case study for climate change.
Back in San Francisco, Earth Day is around the corner April 22. The Civic Center U.N. Plaza will host the fourth annual Earth Day Call to Action celebration with a handful of authors, environmentalists, musicians, chefs, designers and educators in an attempt to mobilize San Franciscans to be more Earth conscious and treat every day like Earth Day.
Now, treating every day like Earth Day is the most important thing. At a point where climate change is undeniable, we don’t question if the oceans will rise and force humanity to retreat inland but instead “how fast?” We have to do all we can each day to slow our impact on the only habitable planet we’ve ever discovered.
“Think globally, act locally,” goes the old activist adage. While we can huff and puff about Greenland melting and the sad necessity of clean air stations in China, nothing seemed quite as disgusting as standing on the top of Mt. Tamalpais during winter break and realizing that the heavy shroud over the whole Bay Area wasn’t Karl, our beloved fog, but the filth that we’d hung in the high pressure system drought that we created.
Living like every day is Earth Day isn’t that hard in the Bay Area. Public transit in the city is hyperfunctional compared to where most of us came from — looking at you, Southern California — and Muni’s use of hybrid and electric vehicles makes a huge difference. Even better, take advantage of San Francisco’s 65 miles of bicycle lanes or hoof it in the city that walkscore.com ranked the second-most walkable city in the United States.
Now, maybe you’re not from here. Congratulations, San Francisco is a hell of a town, and in the same way that Southern Californians love their sunshine, San Franciscans love the aforementioned Karl. But Karl the Fog is cold, so bundle up. Running the heater from November until July might be toasty, but once you realize that you can be just as warm on your couch in a light sweater, you can put a deep cut in your carbon footprint — and your electric bill.
Take the extra split second it takes to separate your recyclable coffee cup lid from your compostable coffee cup at school and make sure to sort your trash at home. Repair your broken furniture, appliances, electronics rather than buying new ones. Being environmentally conscious is much cheaper.
It’s important to be aware of our impact on our planet. Considering that out of the approximate 1,800 planets that we know of, it is the only one we think is capable of supporting life as we know it. It’s nice to be reminded of our responsibility once a year, but we need to start acting like every day is Earth Day.