This past year, we at EarthShare watched along with the rest of the country as the markets fell and the economy tilted into recession. Along with our concerns for the well-being of our country and our fellow citizens, we also worried as environmentalists that the poor economic outlook might affect public support for solving environmental problems.
Historically, concerns about preserving nature and creating sustainable energy sources have declined with the economy. The prevailing mindset used to be that preserving nature was a luxury we could only afford if there was room in the budget, and that interest in pursuing alternative, sustainable energy sources was entirely due to high gas prices.
But times do change, and it appears that interest in the environment is as strong as ever. For instance, we were recently contacted by an advertising agency that invited us to create a speaker program for their employees about how their company can be greener. Their motivation is not to sell more advertising services, but rather to practice corporate responsibility, be a better employer, and to contribute to the health of their community. We also see that Americans purchased more than 16,000 hybrid vehicles in November 2008 despite the credit crunch and the drop in prices at the pump. And we see from our web site and workplace giving campaigns that donations and support for the environment have remained strong despite the country’s woes.
Last year EarthShare member groups celebrated the creation of three new marine national monuments in the Pacific Ocean; achieved a life-saving victory for the Greater Yellowstone wolves by winning back their federal protection; supported public health through the passing of the Mercury Export Ban that will protect people around the world from mercury poisoning; gained critical funding for the development of sustainable alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicle projects; and so much more. Watch for our annual newsletter in the spring when we share more good news about the work you've helped to support.
There is also now a general consensus that greening our country will create huge opportunities for our economy and job growth. The demand for environmentally friendly products and services is growing as companies from Walmart to GE have realized that sustainability is the new mantra for businesses and the environment. Thanks to the Middle East wars we understand too that developing reliable renewable energy is now critical for our security and economic future.
Beyond that, we believe the desire to “go green” comes from a growing understanding that the risks to our world are real and immediate. The facts are daunting: according to the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, the number two risk to children’s health comes from environmental threats linked to problems ranging from asthma to autism; most of the world’s fisheries are near collapse; 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water; climate change is real and is already affecting critical ecosystems; and species are going extinct at unprecedented rates. Sadly, there’s more, but these facts alone should illustrate the dire consequences of ignoring our environment.
Given these challenges, the work of EarthShare’s member groups is critical – the work we at EarthShare strive to support with your help – and so it gives us hope to see signs that your support is remaining strong. We know people are struggling as retirement funds decline and they suffer other financial losses, and yet we’re seeing that people are continuing to make lifestyle changes, to learn the facts, to support organizations that are making a difference. We are very grateful, and we want to thank everyone who continues to contribute to a healthy and sustainable environment.
Thank you again on behalf of all of us at EarthShare. We appreciate you, and with your help we can make 2009 an even greener year for our planet and ourselves.
Kal Stein, President and CEO
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