Posts tagged Earth Day

Photo by Katherine Montgomery

Several months ago, exhilarated by the Women’s March, a friend and I exclaimed, “We should do this every weekend!”  Since then, my anger towards President Trump has developed from a vague dread to specific fears as his policies have rolled out: Will immigrants be forever persecuted?  Will women have access to safe health care?

When House bill H.R. 861 to abolish the EPA was introduced in February, my fear sharpened to a point.  The stakes have never been higher for our planet’s health, and this bill is an arrogant deterrent to progress.

The mistrust of facts in the recent years has been well documented, and the attack on science – preventing scientists from publishing work without White House review, withdrawing research funding, gag orders related to climate change, etc. – is the continuation of this propaganda.  The administration’s attack on science has a direct impact on all of our lives.  From compromising our natural resources, to over-valuing outdated energy sources, their goals do not support the earth and are in direct opposition to the values of landscape architecture.

Download a free “March for Science Poster” for April 22, 2017, Earth Day and The March for Science!

The heart of this profession is in the service of the earth: restoration, habitat support, preserving open space, improving the earth one (rooftop) garden at a time. As the ASLA states, “[The] EPA’s role, protecting human health and the environment, intersects with ASLA’s work in leading the design and stewardship of land and communities…”

I used to advise science students on Ph.D. fellowship applications, and I’ve read more National Science Foundation applications than an art major ever should. I grasped only a small percentage of the technical details, but it was a good test for the students: if they could explain quasi-conformally homogenous Reiman surfaces or quantum computing in a way that I could understand, then they could be better scientists.

In my years advising, I learned the importance of the scientific method, and the concept of ‘good science’.  This term is heavy with meaning, but includes values like “fact over opinion”, following the scientific method, empiricism, and peer review.  I would argue that good science is the basis for all good design, and the parallel processes both include inquiry, research, concept development, trial and error, continual questioning, analyzing, and sharing results.

If science is being denounced, the scaffolding for our culture is compromised.  I urge you to join me in supporting science by marching this Saturday, April 22, in Downtown LA and over 500 other cities around the world.  The March for Science is part of a ‘global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.’ Come be part of the movement!

Los Angeles State Historic Park Opening
Los Angeles we are finally ready for you! Please join us for the long-awaited Grand Opening of Los Angeles State Historic Park – a day-long celebration of music, performance, family-friendly activities and food trucks. The park is easily accessible by the Chinatown Gold Line Station or by bicycle. Limited parking in the park. More details to follow as the date approaches. Please help us spread the word! Musical Performances by Grammy Award-winning QUETZAL, MILCK (Connie Lim of Washington DC Women’s March), Subsuelo, Shaolin Monks and more…
When: April 22, 2017; Celebrations start at 10am
Where: 1245 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles CA, 90012

March For Science
“March for Science Los Angeles celebrates the crucial roles science plays in driving our economic growth, preserving our environment, and protecting the health of our citizens. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for policymakers to champion and fund science that upholds the common good and to advocate for evidence-based policies in the public interest at local, state and national levels.”
When: April 22, 2017; 9AM – 4PM
Where: Pershing Square Park, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Earth Day LA at Grand Park
Join Grand Park, The Music Center and DWP, discover ways you can live clean and go green in L.A. and celebrate Earth Day. There will even be free trees available if you live or own property within the City of Los Angeles (an ID/Driver’s License or LADWP bill is required; first come, first served with a limit of 1 tree per address).
When: April 19, 2017 @ 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Where: Grand Park, 200 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Our National Parks at 100: Confronting Change & Committing to Science
The UCLA/La Kretz Center in collaboration with Pepperdine University is proud to present a free public lecture with U.S. National Park Service leaders
Dr. Ray Sauvajot, Director od Natural Resource Stewardship and Science in conversation with David Szymanski, Superintendent at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
When: Sunday, April 23, 2017; 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM PDT
Where: Elkins Auditorium Pepperdine University; 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90263

Immersive Landscapes with Andrea Cochran
“Drawing inspiration from early Modernist architects and Minimalist artists, landscape architect Andrea Cochran’s work is distinguished by its careful awareness of site, climate, and qualities of the existing environment. Spare geometry applied to vibrant plant life and a controlled palette of materials results in sharp compositional order, yielding landscapes that convey a heightened sense of texture, light, and movement. She will discuss her process of shaping space in both small gardens and larger landscapes to foster a deeper respect for our natural environment.”
When: Wednesday, April 19, 2017; 7 p.m.
Where: Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA

California Poppy Festival
The 2017 California Poppy Festival™ is scheduled for April 22-23, 2017. The Festival gates open at 10 a.m. both days, and takes place rain or shine! Warm breezes replace the winter chill, jubilant laughter fills the air, and poppies burst into bloom blanketing hillsides in a sea of orange. Join us for two days of music, art, food and fun celebrating the state flower of California and the appearance of poppies in the Antelope Valley!
When: April 22 & 23, 2017. Rain or shine!
Where: Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park (formerly Lancaster City Park); 43063 N. 10th Street West, Lancaster, CA 93534

exxon-mobil-graphic

I blame ExxonMobil for a depressing Earth Day. Last September, Inside Climate News broke a story that ExxonMobil had not only known about climate change 40 years ago, but their own scientist conducted some of the most valuable and original research into its effects.

Think about that for a second. Almost four decades before our current carbon crisis, a powerful and influential American company could have begun a conversation to curtail and clean up fossil fuel use, an effort that would have possibly slowed or reversed climate change. Instead, ExxonMobil doubled-downed and decided to fund anti-“global warming” junk-science studies, leading a campaign against all emission regulations.

It’s times like these that make me hate Earth Day. Not for the same reason Fox News or Donald Trump seem to hate it. I hate it because Earth Day is a reminder of the folly and shortsightedness of humankind.

In 1970, Earth Day was originally conceived a to promote and celebrate peace on earth. With the Cold War raging, a global celebration seemed like a sensible way to try and build awareness about the possibility of nuclear war. This concept may seem ridiculous to the youth of today, but back then the possibility seemed very real, maybe even inevitable. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, advocates of Earth Day shifted their focus to environmental causes. By 1990, organizers got the newly focused Earth Day out to a raucous start, with advocates mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries, in an effort to bring attention to environmental issues.

Currently, Earth Day advocates celebrate around the globe, using the day to launch new global environmental initiatives such as product recycling, plastic bag bans, and emission reduction treaties. But even with emission reduction efforts aiming to reduce carbon emissions to pre-1990 levels, planetary scientist are wondering if we are doing too little too late. Scientists have always theorized that there is (was?) a carbon “point-of-no-return”, a mark where prolonged emissions trigger an irreversible natural process of warming. Current studies certainly show the earth warming at an alarmingly accelerated rate even with our push to reduce global emissions.

What would have been the effects of slowing climate change if plans were laid in place to reduce emissions in 1977? According to an article in the New Yorker in 1977, ExxonMobil lead scientist James Black made a determination that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the environment will roughly raise the average temperature of the earth by about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius – a number that is generally agreed upon by the overwhelming majority of planetary scientists today. A graphic illustration of ExxonMobil’s duplicity is graphically illustrated by Mr. Lee R. Raymond, CEO of the company between 1993-2005. A ceaseless climate change detractor, he infamously gave a speech to Chinese officials and industrialist on the eve of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty signing, proclaiming climate change “defies common sense”.

Turns out, he lied. Mr. Lee R. Raymond is 78 years old this year, and made $321 million by the time he stepped down in 2005. He will never live to see the effects on the earth that he and his company helped orchestrate.

What defies “common sense” is that if these men truly believed in family values as they often proclaim, they would have been concerned about the environmental effects climate change has on their children and grandchildren. No matter how much money the Raymond family has, they have to breathe the same air and drink the same water as everyone else. Is it really a “conservative” or “liberal” issue to want our children to be healthy and safe?

The real tragedy is that this story barely made the headlines. I fully understand that there is no point in jailing 78 year old men. But can we at least be more wary about corporations that influence public health and environmental policy, for the sake of Earth Day and beyond?