Thursday was Earth Day, a rotation of the planet dedicated to itself, created in the ’70s to get boomers out of their hot tubs and est seminars and back to the land. And back FOR the land, really.
Fifty-one years after Cronkite croaked about “the fouled skies, the filthy waters, the littered earth,” it still feels like we’re (un)chillin like villains in ’21: The earth is going to burn its weed and its woods way too much this year. (Is anyone not alarmed by an early April burn ban in Washington State parks?) And as is if such annual roastings weren’t enough, we can also look forward to intensifying typhoons.
We’re at a breaking point such that even those with the most to lose by getting ecological are seeing green. At the same time, we’re still not sure how to change our shade. It’s not as easy as rolling out a worldwide swath of astroturf, especially since so much plastic—both in the form of fish-smothering PPE and governmental red tape—is already clogging up the works.
Perhaps salvation lies in nerds with money, like algae scientists—greens awash in greenbacks and green slime. “Today, biofuels derived from algae attempt to fast-track this process by creating the conditions required to extract oils from the lipids in microalgae,” says this article, sounding a hopeful note.
But will the technology be affordable and efficient in countries that need it most, such as India? What resources will it take to process algal blooms into gallons of fuel? Turns out, the answer sits atop the same slippery slope as the proposition that cryptocurrency is better than cold, hard cash because it saves trees. (Reality: wads of e-coin are generated with power from dirty coal mines in China.)
Anyway, algal biofuel research companies seem more keen on exploring algae as an alternate food source these days, according to the same Indian algal fuel article: “It could be very useful for aquafeed, poultry feed, and the protein could be used for human nutrition too.” Never ones to miss a trend on the upswing, gullible celebrities and influencers (those are still separate categories, right?) are dosing on liquid chlorophyll. Guess it’s time to start weaning off of boeuf au jus and onto green juice.
Can we do more? Blaming bi-partisan whiplash and climate deniers isn’t enough. Maybe Earth Day is about mobilizing around how we want to sustain ourselves:
branching out (gardening; volunteering—go Science Moms!) downloading (Merlin Bird ID, iNaturalist, PlantSnap and Audubon’s native-plant database) and holding people—your elected officials, your grocers, yourself—accountable.
Be careful where you step, though, as accountability sloshes both ways. Seaspiracy theorists raked the ocean’s muck a little too much getting into it with the Inuit, who took a giant frostbite out of their cause in the process (Why not do something good, then, when you traverse the waters.) WEATHERIZING is also an easy, cheap, big one.
Beware, though, weatherizing your mind is as important as filling the gaps around your air conditioner. A change—whether it leads to us liking the weather or not—is gonna come.
And that’s the way it is,