Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Power of Environmental Activism

The government has so much on their agenda that sometimes very important issues slip to the bottom of the list, unnoticed and ignored. Many times this includes environmental concerns simply because many do not see the immediate impact of these issues and therefore flag them as of lesser importance. Thankfully, there are people out there that will not take no for an answer when it comes to the environment and fight in their communities daily to remind the public and government that the world we live in is threatened and needs saving.

It is equally saddening and inspiring that sometimes it takes young children standing up for an issue for action to be taken. That was the case for Pelican Island Elementary School students in Indian River County, Florida. These brave students expressed their concerns for the endangered scrub jay through presentations to the Indian River County Commission, the U.S. Representative, and even the Secretary of the Interior Department. They did not stop fighting for this beloved bird species until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services granted $200,000 to the purchase of undeveloped lands to create a wildlife sanctuary for the endangered species.

Everyone knows the saying “It only takes one person to change the world” but does anyone truly believe it? Michele Tigchelaar of the University of Hawaii validated this empowering quote when she received 1,300 signatures, including students, faculty, and regents, on a school petition named “Divest UH” that fought against fossil fuels in Hawaii. The university has now approved the proposal, which said that the University of Hawaii would be divesting from companies that produce coal, oil, and gas by the year 2018. Word has reached the State Representative Chris Lee who is also the chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee. Lee supported the decision and commended UH and all involved.

Then there are times when success, no matter how small, is still success. James Blakely can attest to this as a Seattle activist against the Shell oilrig in the Arctic Ocean. Along with many others, Blakely attempted to stop what they call the “Polar Destroyer” which is more commonly known as “Shell’s Polar Pioneer” or the 40,000-ton rig that Shell has sent into the Arctic for drilling. In June of 2015 boats and kayaks created two separate barriers against the rig as it was heading out of the Port of Seattle. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard was on team Shell and helped the rig navigate around and through these barriers. Though this specific attempt was unsuccessful, the people did delay Shell and decrease the amount of time that the rig has for digging. Also, they showed the government, the Obama administration, and Shell that the people are not only against this but that they will not make it easy for Shell. Blakely says in a post on greenpeace.org, “If Obama won’t act to save the Arctic from drilling, then the people will”.

Environmental activism surrounds us every day in different shapes and forms. Whether you are saving a bird or saving the ozone, you can make a difference. Do not stand by and let others degrade this beautiful world we live in anymore. Stand up and remember that it really does only take one person to make a difference. Be that person.

- Morgan Froebe