Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What Americans Need to Understand about Environmental Activism on World Environment Day

The world looks to America for leadership. Sadly World Environment Day (WED) tends to be a low profile day in the US compared to some other environmental events. This is unfortunate because the day is meant to be global in scope. It is important for Americans to understand the truly global scale of environmental threats and climate change in particular.

It is fitting that as we acknowledge WED on Wednesday June 5th, we celebrate the global power of environmental activism. This year marks the United Nations 41st WED, an annual event that aspires to be the world's most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action.

While we often think of environmental activism from a national perspective the issues they address are commonly international in scope. Environmental problems like climate change causing greenhouse gases do not respect national boundaries.

A great illustration of successful global activism is Greenpeace's "Detox Fashion" initiative. This campaign has succeed in harnessing the power of popular activism to change the businesses practices of numerous organizations. Greenpeace's consumer powered pressure campaigns have changed the manufacturing processes of a dozen clothing giants. As reviewed by Greenpeace campaigner John Deans, turning consumers into activists is a key component of their strategy.

Environmental abuse has international repercussions and as such is subject to global forces. A good illustration of this point is the Arab Spring which is a contagious popular movement that has led to progress on many environmental fronts.

WED is an opportunity to reflect on the globalized nature of environmental activism. This is a day for people from all walks of life to come together to help build a cleaner and greener future. As explained by the United Nations, WED is intended to “enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.”

Ecological advocacy anywhere is an important part of environmentalism everywhere. Emerging transnational activism gives us reason to hope that we may be able to bring about the global changes we so desperately need.

This day should encourage Americans to support fledgling green movements in other parts of the world as they are an integral part of efforts to address global environmental problems.

People are awakening to the reality that together they have the power to change the world, and we can only hope that Americans will waken to need to support environmental activism around the globe.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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