April is Earth Month, a time to reflect on how humanity is caring for the welfare and well-being of the planet. The environmental movement has changed a great deal since the first Earth Day in 1970, but in the quest to slow down climate change experts agree much remains to be done to save the earth.
A research paper could focus on how environmental issues have changed over the years, as well as which issues have remained a constant.
Comparing then and now
Earth Day is almost 50 years old now, but scientific exploration of our planet extends much further back. One way to look at climate change is to examine how the earth has changed. Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology endeavored to do this retracing the field studies of a much earlier colleague, Joseph Grinnell, who surveyed more than 700 locations from Yosemite to Mt. Lassen to the Mojave Desert in California.
Andy Murdock wrote about these scientists’ efforts in a January 2017 article, “Charting a Century of Climate Change,” for USA Today. He wrote, “One big-picture result from the Grinnell resurvey work tracks with multiple other studies from around the world: many species are on the move as the planet warms.” A research paper could compare and contrast other areas of the world and demonstrate how the flora and fauna have changed during the same time period to demonstrate the effect of climate change.
More about how to save the earth
Scientists learn new things every day. What we knew to be true about how to save the earth in the 20th century may be different in many ways from what we know this century. What other potential climate change issues could arise in the next 50 years? That is another research paper topic to explore.
Brad Plumer offered a look back at what has shifted in just the span of a year in “7 things we’ve learned about Earth since the last Earth Day,” posted on April 22, 2017, at Vox. For instance, while we might be discovering hundreds of new animal species every year, we are also losing wildlife as human civilization continues to expand and the climate changes. The Great Barrier Reef, for instance, suffered two bleaching events, putting it in even more danger than previously thought. But Plumer concluded with a hopeful message, saying humans have the capacity to fix a lot of the harm and ultimately save the earth. As one example, he cited, “More than 5 percent of the world’s oceans are now Marine Protected Areas, up from 1 percent a decade ago.”
The environmental movement today
The science on climate change is solid, yet for many, the environmental movement is not a priority. For instance, a Gallup poll statistic found that just 16 percent of Americans view themselves as active in the environmental movement.
The Good Men Project blog posted “The US Environmental Movement Needs a New Message” on April 19, 2017, with suggestions on how to change the minds of the other 84 percent of Americans, so they will take a larger role in addressing climate change. The writer suggested, “To become an influential social movement once again, U.S. environmentalists need to ‘go local’ and pay attention to minorities’ and workers’ perspectives.” A research paper might explore the economic or sociological connections that could be made between the green movement and workers.
What should be the next steps by the environmental movement before Earth Day 2018? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.