April 2017 Update: Earth Day and Africa

Earth Day is on Saturday, April 22nd. The day offers us a chance to reflect on our relationship with the planet. It’s a joyful day, but also a sobering one that leads us to ask important questions.

Sonia Faruqi in Belize (Project Animal Farm)
Sonia Faruqi in Belize (Project Animal Farm)

For one, how can we mitigate climate change?

There are several simple steps we can take in our day to day lives, from reducing the things we buy to going paperless, from using a reusable mug to keeping a tote bag for groceries. Among the most important steps, however, is to green our plates: reducing our environmental footprint by nudging aside the beef and choosing more fruits and vegetables.

Human impact and climate change unfortunately reach down to the deepest stretches of the ocean. I recently watched Sharkwater, a terrific documentary made by a young Canadian conservationist named Rob Stewart. Sharkwater is beautifully made and eye-opening—a visual treat. Stewart debunks negative media depictions of sharks and reveals them to be pillars of ocean ecosystems. He also exposes a high level of global corruption surrounding shark populations. I found myself touched by Stewart’s courage and saddened by his loss; he died earlier this year in a diving accident while shooting the film’s sequel. You can find Sharkwater on Netflix.

Climate change is a global phenomenon. Are you following what’s happening in Africa? It’s getting insufficient coverage in the media, but here’s part of an article from the New York Times:

“For the first time since anyone can remember, there is a very real possibility of four famines — in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen — breaking out at once, endangering more than 20 million lives . . . Scientists have been saying for years that climate change will increase the frequency of droughts. The hardest-hit countries, though, produce almost none of the carbon emissions that are widely believed to cause climate change.”

The famine in Africa is being described as the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. Climate change forces us to contemplate uncomfortable issues of poverty and fairness. If you’d like to donate, you can do so here to UNICEF, an organization working to provide food aid to children.

Book Excerpt: Here is an excerpt from Chapter Thirteen of Project Animal Farm, titled Barefoot in Beautiful Belize.