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A Look at Our Earth on Earth Day

Earth Day 2012 – Jersey from the Acela - By Shirley Fiske

Today’s guest post is by the Chair of the Global Climate Change Task Force, Shirley Fiske.

Earth Day was on Sunday – not sure how you or your community observed it, but it seemed to be fairly low key from my perspective in NYC and Washington, D.C.  In New York City and there was food art off the High Line and giant puppet impersonators in Bryant Park, their outfits made of Styrofoam food containers; in Washington, D.C. it was a rather desultory Earth Day with rain and a small group of people huddled on the Mall, although Rev. Jesse L. Jackson was there in solidarity.

However, a childhood friend from L.A. sent me an article from the L.A. Times that was a bright spot, and you might want to check it out:

NASA has redesigned and enhanced their Global Climate Change website, providing aerial photos of deforestation and clearing in Brazil.  You can find them in a photo gallery called “State of Flux.”  As the article describes, there are examples of deforestation in Bolivia, urban growth in Saudi Arabia, and the creeping sprawl of Las Vegas.  (Earth Day 2012: A new look at the human footprint on Mother Earth, by Rene Lynch).  The new website provides remarkable images and “information-rich captions” to interpret the changes in land use.  While the article mistakenly ascribes the changes to population growth (it is only an intervening variable, not the causative factor), it is a valuable reminder of the important role that anthropologists have played from the beginning in understanding the human dimensions of climate change; and the importance of re-orienting the focus in climate modeling from “land cover” to “land use change.”  This was one of the early lessons from social sciences, and specifically from people like Emilio Moran, an anthropologist of course, and Diana Liverman, who is a cultural geographer.  The revised website from NASA may be one of the best efforts from federal agencies in the spirit of Earth Day 2012.

2 Responses

  1. […] A Look at Our Earth on Earth Day (aaanet.org) […]

  2. In our community a lot of attention was paid to Earth Day which I think is a good sign for upcoming years. I subscribe to the theory that education is the best way to raise awareness about environmental issues and that’s why I appreciate the initiative launched by the authorities of my native Toronto who decided to organize a number of biodiversity workshops and other attractions so all of us could learn a little bit more about the protection and conservation of biodiversity in our province.

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