by Nancy Adair
On the very first Earth Day, April 20, 1970, I joined hundreds of earth-lovers on Dunn Meadow, the wide lawn in front of our Student Union, for an event that was part march, part celebration.
Warm weather came early that year. We walked barefoot through the grass and dipped our toes into the crisp, clear Jordan River. We raised our faces to the glowing sun and let its glorious rays nourish our flower-children bodies all the way down to the chlorophyll. All was well with the earth.
Or was it? Speakers on soapboxes created a storm of controversy. They hurled thunderbolts of information us. Human folly was spoiling the earth.
Fossil fuels. Guilty!
Students booed louder with each new charge.
The skeptical me stepped back, twisted a finger around a long strand of brown hair, and pondered the noise. Was this a hippie whim that would pass with time or a sinister plot by Tricky Nixon to distract us from Vietnam? I hate to be tricked by anyone, so here began my long quest for answers.
Which I need today more than ever.
Our new Environmental Protection Agency Director—former Attorney General from Oklahoma—is censoring the EPA, including its own website and Facebook page as well as new reports and findings. Research grants are frozen, even to scientists finishing Ph.D.s. Our new government policy is: The public must not be informed on environmental impact issues, not by the EPA nor by NOAA, our important weather center.
Ever debate a climate denier? They’re locked and loaded with fake news.
“Unprovable theories,” they sneer, “by liberals wanting regulations that will ruin our economy and employment.”
“Are you kidding me?” I reply. “Those theories you mention now pour out torrents of facts and evidence. Look at the changes since 1970: the winds in Bellingham, the earthquakes in Oklahoma, the violent hurricanes back east.”
The Climate Denier opens his umbrella and replies, “Climate comes in trends,” while his umbrella blows inside out.
“That’s half true,” I say, knowing half-truths can be more dangerous than lies.
Thanks to Teddy Roosevelt, a right-thinking President and father of our National Park Service, I can now argue the full truth of climate trends.
From the 2016 Centennial until last week, I have visited over fifty National Parks, including fossil beds and painted deserts, which are more than just pretty hills. They tell the story of climate trends. Each band of color represents an era of history in our land. From these bands, scientists discover evidence of climate change. The wider the band—sometimes representing millions of years—the slower the trend. Today, we have a rapid, man-made climate trend that is changing fast it will be represented by a narrow sliver of a band.
“Petrified Forest. Note hiker for perspective.”
What does this mean? A long, slow climate transition gives plants and animals time to change and adapt. In a rapid transition, species are shocked by change and go extinct.
Here in Washington State, the warming trend is elevating bacteria levels in our water, making our food fish toxic. It’s driving bugs further north, and humans don’t have time to adapt to their diseases. I never thought about mosquitos or deer ticks when I moved to Washington twenty years ago. Now I do. When the cockroaches show up, I’m outta here.
Last week in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, I learned how rapid climate change harms cultures. For 5,000 years the Navaho have lived in that Canyon. Our warming climate now spreads fires that burn their trees, crops, and homes, as well as their history, recorded as petroglyphs on sandstone. The decrease in snow and increase in rain creates flash floods that wash away river banks and expose or destroy precious artifacts.
Yet, while all these rapid changes take place, the climate deniers in Washington, D.C. are gutting important agencies and making science political. Go to the Facebook page, Save EPA, if you want to see the damage already done.
The March for Science on April 22 and The People’s Climate March on April 29 will show Washington that we resist policies which “threaten the future of our planet, the safety of our communities, and the health of our families.”
We don’t have time to wait until the new administration figures out climate change is real. Our situation is urgent.
It has been 47 years since I pledged my allegiance to our earth, and it’s time to renew that pledge. It’s time to march again.
Author’s Bio: In the 1980’s Nancy Adair left the U.S. with her diplomat husband, two babies, and a typewriter. After twenty-five years overseas, she now resides in Bellingham, where she turns her life experience into novels, blogs, and memoir. Her stories have recently won first-place awards with the Chanticleer Reviews and the Write Practice.