We Idahoans have a deep appreciation for the place we live. We enjoy our clean air and water and the natural places where we fish, hunt and recreate. This year, huge cuts are proposed to the agencies that protect our Earth and protect the Idaho we love — the National Institutes of Health, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Department of Energy and numerous other smaller programs. Simultaneously, our government is abandoning plans to address increasingly alarming changes we are seeing in our climate that pose direct risks to our way of life. Just one timely example: Scientists predict that the Boise River will flood more often because of climate change.
It’s getting hard to imagine that the Earth has a fighting chance.
But it does. And let me tell you why. Here in Idaho, our first-graders get it. They not only understand — in one hour — how climate change works, they want to fix it. Our fourth-graders can imagine alternative energy sources we adults have never even dreamed of, like baking soda and vinegar-powered cars, and floating trains running on opposable magnets. Our college students are starting successful small businesses based on sustainable agriculture. Boise State graduate students and faculty are conducting research that makes a difference — they’re engaged in everything from 1,000-mile treks in Greenland to measure changes in ice thickness to cutting-edge research on the effect of pesticides on human health. In the Treasure Valley our small businesses and farms are thriving because we value local food and services. And our big businesses, including Simplot and Idaho Power, are increasingly factoring future climate change and sustainability into their business models.
So no one can tell me that Idaho doesn’t care about Earth Day. In 20 years, when my first-grader looks me in the eye and asks, “Mom, what were you doing when you knew global warming was happening?” I want to be able to tell her that I was doing the best that I could. All of us have different ways to show we care for the Earth. We re-evaluate our businesses, we teach, we invent, we pick up litter, we collect data, and we care for our community. What we can’t do is look one of those first-graders in the eye and tell them, “Sorry — we adults didn’t care enough to take care of your planet.” That’s just not an option.
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Not sure what you can do? How about this: Come to Boise State on Thursday to learn about how university researchers, the city of Boise and local businesses are working together to make our community a better place. Come to the Science March on Earth Day, on Saturday, to support the role that evidence-based science has made in our lives.
Above all, show your support for Earth Day by respecting your Mother. Mother Earth, that is. Remember, she’s the only one we’ve got.
Jen Pierce is an associate professor at Boise State in the Department of Geosciences. Her research focuses on Quaternary geomorphology, Holocene fire history and climate change, recent fire history and climate change, and feedback among hydrologic, biologic and geologic systems.