If there is anything we have learned in the decades since the first Earth Day in 1970, it’s that this is a wonderfully complex challenge – a challenge too great for anything less than a global collaboration of concerned and aware individuals and institutions. It’s a challenge for advocates, scientists, politicians, parents and grandparents, corporate leaders, artists, the faith community, researchers, and any one who cares about the future of the earth that is our home and the home of our progeny.
For me, the small slice of the challenge relates to the importance of open government — broadly defined. This narrow slant is in truth a small piece of a complex story. Earth Day is for me a reminder to focus specifically – and hard – on what it is we need to know, how will we know it, who/what agencies are the best sources of information. As with any information probe, who do we/should be trust?
And then I think about the information flow. My frame of reference is specific, but scalable. How do we know what we know about the earth, the climate, world food distribution, the seas and oceans, the flow of water, the soil beneath of feet? Who sets the research agenda? To what purpose is information produced and with whom is it shared? What else do we need to know?
Earth Day is more than spirit and energy for a cause. The day must kickstart a commitment to the idea that information is power, that the agencies of government of the people must be held accountable as a primary resource for the people.
Much as we care about the earth beneath our feet, we need to realize that the challenge of Earth Day is also one of the head.