Earthday Celebration April 2017

On April 22, 1970, 20 million people gathered in the streets of America to protest the impact the industrial revolution was having on the environment. An environmental movement, known as Earthday, was born as a result. Today, Mother Earth is honored on April 22 around the world in 170 countries.

This year the international theme for Earthday is Environmental & Climate Literacy.

environmental progress news

Stewardship of our Earth

Let’s face it, we have screwed up our environment.

Our actions have depleted our soils, destroyed our forests, polluted our water and air, endangered species, and brought on a climate change that is threatening our survival.

This month, as we celebrate Earthday, we can find hope for the future. While we are still debating global warming and trying to come up with solutions, these kids are taking action. We salute and support these young visionaries, the future Stewards of our Earth.

Morales Casanova
“Education is the most powerful tool we have for solving environmental problems,” says Morales Casanova. “Empower children with information, leadership skills, and confidence, and they will change the world.”

As a ten-year-old living in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, she started Humanity United to Nature in Harmony for Beauty, Welfare, and Goodness (HUNAB) after seeing neighborhood children vandalize trees, harm their own pets, and hurt other kids.

She instilled a new respect for nature by teaching kids how to grow plants and care for animals. “It encouraged me to spread the idea of harmonic coexistence between living things—that each living being has a place in the world that must be respected,’’ Morales Casanova says.

By 13, she was asking Mexico’s president to create a protected area to train kids about environmental issues. “My biggest challenge was gaining credibility,” Morales Casanova says. “Although I had been developing solutions for years, authorities and business leaders only looked at my age, not my experience.”

Eventually, Mexico donated land to open the Ceiba Pentandra Park, an environmental education park in Yucatán’s capital, Merida. She hopes to educate 64,000 children at the facility every year, empowering kids with conservation knowledge as well as leadership skills to become activists and change agents.

HUNAB continues to be run by children, some as young as eight. Morales Casanova, now 32, says their perspective and peer-to-peer training is essential.

“I know children have great capacity to be leaders because I have lived that experience,” says Morales Casanova, a Rolex Laureate and National Geographic emerging explorer. “When we are children, we have a closer relationship with nature and are also more disposed to create and participate with honest commitment.’ (Source: National Geographic)

Felix Finkbeiner
The 13-year-old who has the world planting trees. At the age of nine, Felix Finkbeiner hatched a plan to plant a million trees in his native Germany. Now he’s a global eco-superhero.

Felix Finkbeiner was a nine year old student in Bavaria in 2007 when he was given the task of preparing a classroom presentation on climate change for his homework. He discovered the story of Wangari Maathai of Kenya, the environmental activist and first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Inspired by Wangari’s Green Belt Movement Felix formulated his vision: Children could plant one million trees in every country on earth and thereby offset
CO2 emissions all on their own, while adults are still talking about doing it. Each tree binds a CO2 intake of 10 kg per year.

The idea grew into the international youth organisation known as Plant for the Planet which campaigns for tree planting across the globe. The membership organisation organises events in addition to tree planting and operates a Climate Justice Ambassador scheme.

In 2011, the UNEP turned its Billion Tree Campaign over to the organization Felix had started. By that time, the UN program had celebrated the planting of 12 billion trees.

At Plant for the Planet Academies, children (aged 9 – 12) become Climate Justice Ambassadors and explore all the important topics of the climate crisis and global justice, learn how to give presentations and how to organize tree planting events.

Participating at an Academy is free for the children. By June 2014 Plant for the Planet Academies had taken place across 45 countries worldwide, resulting in 30,000 Climate Justice Ambassadors.

Plant for the Planet

Birke Baehr

For most 11-year-olds, the most important thing about food is that it be free of vegetables, fried if possible, and pizza when available.

But Birke Baehr isn’t most 11-year-olds: He’s an organic food activist that speaks out to encourage kids and adults to avoid industrially-farmed food, genetically modified foods, pesticides, and herbicides.

“A while back I wanted to be an NFL football player, but now I want to be an organic farmer instead,” he has said — and he knows just how to address skeptics who say organic is too expensive: “We can either pay the farmer or we can pay the hospital.”

Mason Perez

Photo: Commons

Nine-year-old Mason Perez was eating a hot dog at the baseball field — like any kid — when he stopped by the bathroom to wash his hands of ketchup, mustard, and whatever else 9-year-olds get on their hands at the baseball field.

The water came out so fast that he turned it down halfway — and when he realized that less pressure didn’t impede his ability to clean his hands, he was inspired to use that discovery as a jumping off point for his science fair project. He tested valves at residences and businesses all over town, saving between 6 and 25 percent of the water by turning down the pressure.

One More Generation

One More Generation (OMG) was founded in 2009 by 8 year old Carter Ries and 7 year old Olivia Ries. Carter and his Sister Olivia are both extremely passionate about animals and conservation. Following the adoption of Cheetahs in South Africa, Carter and Olivia began to question why humans would need to adopt wild animals like the cheetah. Carter and Olivia soon learned of the pressing issues surrounding endangered species, and knew they had to act.

Carter and Olivia started their own nonprofit in an effort to help educate children and adults about the plight of endangered species. Carter and Olivia’s intention is to preserve all species for at least One More Generation… and beyond.

Shortly after starting their organization, Carter and Olivia took action to assist marine wildlife affected by the BP Gulf Oil Spill. After spending four months collecting animal rescue supplies, the two spent five days delivering their supplies and rehabilitating marine wildlife. The two learned first hand that many animals are at risk of extinction due to environmental threats, specifically plastic pollution. Carter and Olivia proceeded to create a Plastic and Recycling Curriculum for elementary school students, launching their first environmental conservation initiative.

Carter and Olivia have since launched additional divisions within OMG designed to empower youth around the world to stand up and help create solutions for the pressing issues of today.