Fifty years ago today, Senator Gaylord Nelson of California initiated one of the most important environmental movements in history, Earth Day.
Every April 22nd, we set aside one day to reflect on how important Earth is to our lives. We come up with ways we can show our appreciation by taking part in beach clean ups, attending environmental fairs, making promises to be a better steward of the Earth and so on... for one day.
Why is there only one day dedicated to the only planet that can sustain life (ours and everything on its surface) and is the sole reason we wake every morning, eat, drink, move and breathe? Shouldn't every day be Earth Day? Shouldn't we rejoice daily and reflect on the importance of the ground beneath our feet, the sky above our heads and the oceans that meet the horizons?
We can all do anything for a single day - 24 short hours - that's easy. It's the longterm commitment that is the challenge and something we all need to think about going forward.
As we all struggle to get through this pandemic, we can only hope that it doesn't become a distant memory like most events in our lives, and we learn something from it. Earth needs our attention and as long as we ignore it and do what we've always done, it will continue to react or rebel in ways we can't imagine or predict.
So while you're pent up in your house or apartment wondering why popcorn ceilings were ever invented and binge watching Modern Family, take some time out of your busy day to think about what you're going to do when this is over.
Ask yourself how you are going to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
Are you going to minimize your use of single use plastic?
Are you going to be a better consumer and demand less packaging?
Are you going to plant native plants to help our pollinators?
Are you going to use public transportation whenever possible?
Are you going to consider trading in that gas guzzler for a hybrid or EV?
Are you going to become a citizen scientist (a.k.a. community scientist) and collect data for an organization doing research on animals, plants or climate change?
Are you going to volunteer for an environmental organization and participate in beach or community clean-ups, or support them one in other ways?
Are you going to Buy Local and stop supporting corporate agricultural farms that use pesticides and poison our food and harm our critical pollinators?
Are you going to compost your food scraps rather than throw them in the trash?
Are you going to reduce your consumption of red meat to help lessen your carbon footprint?
Are you going to vote for environmentally friendly policies?
Are you going to buy used clothing and stop supporting brands that cause pollution and harm the environment?
They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. We have all been sheltering in place much longer than that, so why don't we form new, healthy habits during this time away from work, friends and family and emerge a better version of ourselves?
Happy Earth Day, everyone. Now let's get busy....
Silver-haired bat image courtesy of Merlin Tuttle
Today is officially Bat Appreciation Day, and although there aren't many places we can go to celebrate this momentous occasion, we can certainly reflect on the many things we are grateful to our 47 North American bat species for providing. While we're at it, we can also do a few things on our own to help bats out while we're sheltering in place looking for fun things to do.
What exactly do bats provide? If you don't already know, hold on to your hat!
Here are just a few of the many benefits of bats:
• They eat insects that cause diseases like Zika, malaria, dengue fever and encephalitis in humans.
• They consume crop pests, which saves farmers billions of dollars in pesticides every year and keeps our food safer
• They pollinate plants such as bananas, mango and agave - the latter is the source of tequila. We can all definitely use a margarita these days!
• They repopulate areas of deforestation by spreading seeds, including rain forests.
• They provide nutrients to other cave dwelling animals through their nutrient-rich guano.
And although there's no scientific evidence, they must walk on water, too! Bats aren't your average flying mammal; they're your only flying mammal, and today shouldn't be the only day we celebrate them, we should add them to our daily "I'm thankful for" list.
What can you do to help bats? You know you want to, so here you go:
• Never, everrrr kill bats!!
• Buy a bat house that is appropriate for your state.
• Never use pesticides on your lawn.
• Keep lakes and streams healthy and clean to give bats fresh drinking water, and in some cases, habitat to hunt.
• Remove bats humanely from structures. If a bat gets into your attic, open a window or wait until they leave and plug up any holes they may be using. Remember, bats can fit through holes the size of a dime. Remember during spring and summer, if a bat is female, and you exclude her from your home, she may be leaving behind a pup. Click here for guidance on safe bat removal.
• Keep dead trees on your property. Bats need them for roosting!
• Plant native pollinator gardens to support the insects bats feed on.
• Rid your yard of invasive species so native species can grow and support healthy insect populations.
• Never disturb roosting bats.
• Keep your cats indoors. They kill billions of birds and mammals every year, including bats.
• Use motion sensor lights around your home, rather than porch lights that stay on all night.
• Never go from cave to cave without completely decontaminating everything you wore or carried. This is one way white-nose syndrome (WNS) spreads (See White-nose Syndrome section).
• Support the bat conservation organizations
• Spread correct information about bats to friends and family
• Become a citizen scientist. Sign up to help count bats in your state. Click here for a list of bat experts near you
See? Helping bats couldn't be easier. So celebrate them today and every day, and let's see if we can help increase their populations by working together.
Be on the lookout for Naturedigger's "The Bat App" coming soon to the App Store!