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Don’t celebrate Earth Day for the Earth or the Ocean. Do it for yourself, your children and their children!

Don’t try to save the Earth on Earth Day.

Does this seem like heresy coming from an ocean conservation blog?

The Earth has pleaded her case since the first Earth Day in 1970, over and over for more than 50 years. Many have heeded her cry for help — yet in many ways the world is worse off than when we started in 1970. Today no corner of the globe is immune from the devastating consequences of climate change.

If we can’t or won’t save the Earth for its creatures, its wondrous marine life and natural beauty this Earth Day, then we must save it for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. Call today, Self-Preservation Day if you must.

Sea levels are rising, Arctic Sea ice is melting, coral reefs are dying, oceans are acidifying, and forests are burning. We are experiencing more intense rainstorms, longer droughts, bigger fires, and stronger hurricanes. The fish populations that are left in the world are moving towards the poles to find cooler water.

These are not isolated events. Everyone can feel it; and it is clear, business as usual is not good enough.

Despite the slowdown of carbon released into the atmosphere during the pandemic, this year it has resumed its relentless rise. Economic rebound has created a demand for fossil fuels with little thought about the future. Smart adults in rich countries like the US still buy huge gas guzzling SUVs and trucks and leave them running while they wait in carpool lines or parking lots. Why? Do they think climate change is a hoax? Do they not care about their children’s future or the next hurricane or fire that could destroy their house? Frankly, after decades of climate change news and publicity, I don’t know, and I don’t care.

As environmentalists, we are advised to spread hopeful news on climate change. Or at least that is what the psychologists and public relations gurus tell us. Their advice is, “Don’t give them the bad news; they’ll be too depressed to do anything about it, frozen with fear, or so hardened to bad news that they’re indifferent.”

Is that tactic working? Not so far. And in fact, we are falling short on good news to give. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report unequivocally states, we have fewer years left to take decisive action to save the planet from the worst impacts of climate change. The danger is coming sooner and faster than anticipated. That’s not good news.

My response to this is: if you won’t do it for the Earth, then do it for yourself and future generations to come.

Many of us have already experienced the worsening of our lives, and it will get worse as these trends continue. Food will be more expensive. Climate change refugees will be knocking at our doors. Instability, war, and destruction will increase in countries experiencing the worst impacts. There will be water shortages due to drought and heat waves, devastating fires, insect outbreaks, destructive hurricanes, and more severe weather in general. Some diseases will increase. It will be much hotter to mow the lawn on a summer’s day. Most importantly, your children and their children will experience a vastly changed natural world.

If you need an inspiring call to action to ‘get off the couch’, I urge you to watch the Science Moms (www.sciencemoms.com). Remember when your mom said, “Listen to me, I know what’s right”. Well, just listen to these Moms. They are on the right track. And they are telling us we must act on climate change now. ‘Later is too late’. And by the way, they give you permission to use your outside voice with politicians and decision makers when talking about climate change because time is running out! I love using my outside voice with leaders, politely and respectfully of course.

There are so many ways to make a difference this Earth Day days after. One of them is to join the fight to protect oceans with Marine Conservation Institute and save the heart of our blue planet by supporting our Blue Parks Impact Fund or you can join our campaigns to save critical ocean ecosystems in the US in the Florida Keys, Oculina Banks or California Seamounts, www.marine-conservation.org. What matters most is doing something and staying engaged.

If we work to together to save ourselves and our children starting this Earth Day … if we really support politicians and organizations that are trying to change the course of humanity … if we change our behavior and consumption habits, we may be able to avoid the worst impacts for ourselves, our children and future generations. As the Science Moms say, “Later is too late.”

We need to act now as if our life and the lives of our children depend on it … because they do.

Happy Earth Day.