An Earth Day 2021 Interview with Tracey Ritchie of EARTHDAY.ORG

An Earth Day 2021 Interview with Tracey Ritchie of EARTHDAY.ORG

In honor of Earth Day, the 22nd of April, Thursday, Soulivity Magazine will be holding their virtual event, brought to you by our platform and Beyond Words Publishing! We had the opportunity to sit with one of the guest speakers of Tracey Ritchie as we spoke about the importance of preserving one's environment amidst deteriorating climate change. 

Interviewer: Scientists have predicted that the long-term effects of climate change will include a decrease in sea ice and an increase in permafrost thawing, an increase in heatwaves and heavy precipitation, and decreased water resources in semi-arid regions. What is your opinion? 

Ritchie: Global Climate Change is a complex topic because no one region will experience the same exact impacts. Where some regions will experience increase prevalence of storm events and increases in rainfall, some will experience severe droughts and devastating water shortages. This makes educating and communicating about climate change very difficult as there is no one size fits all messaging that can explain those complexities and unique situations. Collectively humans like to receive information in absolutes and hear concrete solutions. However, science does not work that way and we need to do a better job in trusting the general public with complex answers instead of oversimplified soundbites that are ultimately incorrect.

Interviewer: Do you believe organizations are doing enough work to help fight the deteriorating earth due to the negative impacts of the ongoing climate change crises?

Ritchie: There are an incredible amount of organizations and individuals doing so much to combat the climate crisis. However, it won't be enough until all people and countries are united in the fight against climate change. Organizations and individuals need to be supported by national leaders, government entities, and large corporations to ensure success.

Interviewer: Do you believe that we don't have enough activists who advocate for a healthier ecosystem on Earth Day and a healthier land for us to live in? 

Ritchie: As mentioned above, "enough" will not occur until all individuals consider themselves advocates for the planet. We all have a vested interest in a healthy environment, access to safety resources, and can feel assured of a sustainable world for future generations. We each have a role to play, no matter our socioeconomic status, profession, or country of origin. However, people in the wealthiest countries need to acknowledge the massive impact they have on the global climate systems and those of the Global South who are experiencing the most devastating impacts are the least responsible.

Interviewer: What do you think we, as a community, can do to help contribute towards healthier earth and a healthier ecosystem, on Earth Day, or every day in general?

Ritchie: Everyone needs to consider their individual impact, the decisions they make each day, and the habits they have that aren't given much thought.

This includes everything from daily purchases, to who you vote for, what kind of transportation you use, what food you eat, what kind of house and lawn you have, where do you keep your finances, how you interact with your community, how much waste you produce and how you educate yourself. It can be overwhelming to think about how all of our actions can have lasting impacts, but if we take the time to each consider how we can do our part to lessen our individual impact and how we support collective action, it adds up to global change.

Interviewer: Scientists know recent climate change (which is also negatively affecting the earth) is largely caused by human activities. What is your opinion? 

Ritchie: Anthropogenic climate change- or human-induced climate change is a fact. This is no longer up for debate or disagreement. Human actions, over hundreds of years, have significantly altered the global climate systems and we are experiencing those impacts today and will see greater impacts in the future.

The disagreement comes from discussions about how we deal with these impacts and how we mitigate further impacts by adjusting our behaviors. The important thing to remember is that there is still hope and it is not too late.

There is still time for individual and community level change in the form of grassroots organizing and also time for major changes by governments and large corporations to adjust funding priorities, policies and legislation that promote a just and sustainable future for all, and wide-scale reform for economic, transportation, education, labor, and resource management systems.

Tracey Ritchie joined EARTHDAY.ORG as the director of education in January 2018. Most recently she was adjunct faculty at the University of Florida and has held positions from Florida to North Carolina, managing and facilitating environmental education programs. Tracey holds a PhD from the University of Florida, where she focused on developing systems-thinking skills in students and teachers to more effectively communicate about complex environmental issues such as climate change.

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