Earth Day: More Than Ever in Need for Global Awareness
While Earth Day is celebrated every year with an eye on science and the environment, the mission becomes increasingly urgent.
One of the early actions taken by US President Donald Trump in 2016 was to stem the flow of information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other government organizations overlooking issues affecting the environment, a move largely seen by many as cramping on dissent. A climate-change skeptic at best, President Trump has been widely viewed as muzzling science. His subsequent hiring of Scott Pruitt, an official with close ties to the oil and gas industry, and someone who believes that carbon dioxide is not the primary contributor to climate change, to head the EPA, has only served to add fuel to the fire.
In January 2018, it was reported that the Trump administration's EPA would lift key controls on toxic air pollution. This year Earth Day will focus on pollution from plastics, campaigning to change attitudes and behaviour about plastics.
In 2017 the March for Science took place on Earth Day, “the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.” More than 400 marches took place around the world because, according to the March for Science organizers, “science, scientists, and evidence-based policymaking are under attack. Budget cuts, censorship of researchers, disappearing datasets, and threats to dismantle government agencies harm us all, putting our health, food, air, water, climate, and jobs at risk.” The group 314 Action is encouraging scientists to become a part of the political discourse through direct involvement and by running for office.
Books serve as essential ballast to drive discussion in the midst of such intense political and social engagement. While favorites such as Silent Spring and An Inconvenient Truth will invariably form the cornerstone of such dialog, there are many outstanding literary fiction novels where science in general, and the environment in particular, is woven in with a lighter hand, and are worth picking up.