I love to walk. I love to go outside first thing in the morning before the hectic part of the day begins. I love to forget articles, queries, and deadlines for an hour and zero in on the sights and sounds around me.
Over the past few days, the wonderful scent of American wisteria has drawn me to take a closer look at a deserted house along my path. I feel so sorry for the sad, forlorn structure sitting there all alone with no one to love it. The azaleas and other plants remind me of what once was, and the wisteria acts as a calling card inviting people like myself to come into the yard and visit, if only for a few minutes.
While walking along one of the farm tracks winding through the woods, some kind of critter hurriedly vacates an overhanging tree limb causing the outer branches to dip down and bop me in the head. My mysterious onlooker, along with a mixed chorus of crunching leaves, snapping twigs, bird song, chirping frogs, and buzzing bugs, constantly remind me there's an awful lot of life sharing this corner of the planet with me.
I enjoy greeting the wild turkeys, deer, birds, rabbits, squirrels, and possums trying to sneak past me through the thick understory. Of course, I can't see them. However, I'm sure they notice me.
Passing the pond, I try to tiptoe noiselessly and catch a glimpse of the creature that splashes into the water before I can see what it is. It's a game we've been playing for months. He wins every day.
There's never a dull moment when you're hanging out with Mother Nature. The best part is you don't have to live out in the boonies to appreciate her beauty. Even in the middle of a large metropolis, you can find a natural area with trees and plants, birds and bugs busily doing their thing.
But we must face the cold, hard facts that not all is sunshine and lollipops. Climate change, pollution, deforestation, and habitat loss are major problems that must be dealt with NOW!
A place to start is in our woodlands
Our forests play a critical role in providing clean water to communities, preserving biodiversity, and sequestering and storing carbon. If protected, they can be used as "nature-based solutions" to stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis. Research shows that a significant portion of remaining mature forests are on federal lands. (From the study, "Mature and Old-Growth Forests Contribute to Large-Scale Conservation Targets in the Conterminous United States" https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/ffgc.2022.979528/full)
"On Earth Day last year, President Biden started an important process to protect mature and old-growth forests on federal lands -- and he promised to deliver progress within a year," says Alex Craven, Sierra Club's Senior Campaign Representative for their Our Wild America Campaign.
President Biden recognized the invaluable significance of public lands as a nature-based solution to climate change. Experts agree. This decade is the make-or-break challenge to determine if we can protect Earth's remaining ecosystems. Craven predicts, "If we can preserve 30% of all lands and waters in the US by the year 2030, we can make meaningful strides to avoid the most damaging effects of climate change."
Invest in Our Planet
The theme of Earth Day 2023 is Invest in Our Planet. One way we can do that is through reforestation.
According to the organization's Canopy Project, the world's forests have lost about 20% of their coverage since the early 1900s. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization reports that about 7.3 million hectares (18 million acres) of forest are lost annually, and roughly half of Earth's tropical forests have already been cleared.
Planting trees is one of the biggest and cheapest ways to tackle the climate crisis. Trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, support vital animal habitats, and provide ecological services for humans by purifying the air and regulating local temperatures.
Responsible reforestation programs also benefit us by:
- stabilizing the land from erosion or natural disasters, trees
- improving water and soil health
- promoting native and endemic fauna
- providing economic development for nearby communities
That's only the beginning. EarthDay.org lists a variety of ways humanity can correct its wasteful, greedy, disrespectful habits and restore the biodiversity that's been lost.
Remember, creating habitat, reducing the use of plastics, education, advocacy, and getting others involved are not limited to the one day we recognize as Earth Day but need to be practiced 365 days a year. We have to consider ALL LIFE that shares our planet with us.
Earth Day events are scheduled across the world. You can find out what's happening in your region by checking the website.
If you can't participate in any official Earth Day activities, join me in creating our own Mother Earth Day celebration by getting together with friends and/or family and taking a walk. If you prefer, go by yourself. Just tune out the world and tune into nature. You'll be amazed at how relaxing that can be. Show your appreciation for nature's beautiful treasures by carrying a bag and picking up litter while you're out there. Make your Mother proud!!!
What will you do for Earth Day, April 22, 2023?