“Fierce Urgency of Now” and Climate Change

After volunteering at the EPA booth during the Earth Day festivities this past weekend, I walked over to the Climate Rally at the National Mall. Speaker after speaker highlighted the need to take action to develop a comprehensive policy to address climate change. It was interesting to see those who had participated at the first Earth Day 40 years ago in 1970 speaking at the rally on Sunday. While they pointed to the environmental progress achieved over the years, several indicated that on this 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the world faces new challenges. Many of them joined their voices to call for urgent action on climate change today in 2010.climate-rally

Just two days after the festivities, EPA has published a report entitled Climate Change Indicators in the United States . The report analyzes 24 key indicators that show how climate change impacts the health and environment across the nation. While it focuses on the effects of these indicators in the United States, global trends are presented as well. Some of the findings point to an increase in average temperatures across the United States, rising sea levels, heavier precipitation, and a greater intensity of tropical storms, to name a few. The report concludes that there is compelling evidence that fundamental changes to our environment are unfolding before our very eyes.

The urgency of the situation brought memories of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream
speech delivered at the other end of the National Mall nearly forty-seven years ago. Although the great civil rights leader sought to stress the urgency for action in favor of racial justice and equality, a parallel can be drawn regarding the urgency to address the current challenge of climate change. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said on that hallowed spot in front of the Lincoln Memorial, “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism…It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”

While the challenges seem monumental for the average citizen, there are simple steps that we all can take to reduce our environmental impacts. Pick something that you can do today!

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.