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Posted on Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 6 a.m.

Earth Day: What's your face of climate change?

By Wayne Baker

Face-of-Climate-Change-from-India.jpg
Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is discussing environmental issues.

What's the face of climate change? Perhaps an image of extreme weather? Or, you might envision the face of a small child in the developing world.

Today is Earth Day. The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970, organized as a “national teach-in on the crisis of the environment.” It was proposed by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. He made his announcement to the U.S. Senate and it appeared in the October 8, 1969, Congressional Record. (Here’s a story about the origin and current breadth of this worldwide holiday.)

This week’s main question is: Forty-three years later, where do we stand on the environment? Please, leave a comment below. As you consider your response, here’s more information to get you thinking.

FIRST, what do polls show? Americans are still divided on the trade-off of energy production and environmental protection. According to a Gallup poll earlier this month, 45 percent of Americans say that “protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk or limiting the amount of energy supplies—such as oil, gas, and coal—which the United State produces.” But 46 percent say that developing these supplies “should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.”

SECOND, let’s personalize the issue: That’s the goal of the Earth Day Network in organizing “The Face of Climate Change” for Earth Day 2013. This is an invitation to take a photo and tell your story about how you see climate change and how it impacts you. You can upload your photo and story by visiting the Earth Day Network’s current front page.

I browsed the photos already on the site, especially those tagged the Photo of the Day. The one that caught my eye is small boy in Bilaspur, India, smiling and holding a sign above his head that says “The Face of Climate Change.”

Here’s part of his story: “We are ready to protect nature with our small hands. Come with me! I am happy because my family is fighting against the sponge iron factory, which produces lots of carbon. If we win, it will help save our ecosystem! Please come fight with us!”

The sponge iron industry, also known as direct reduced iron, is a rapidly growing sector in India, especially in the regions where iron ore is plentiful. But it uses coal in the process. The dirty production of sponge iron is causing extensive pollution and massive protests from those affected.

So, how far have we come in the past 43 years?

Which is more important: energy production of environmental protection?

What’s your image of the face of climate change?

Wayne Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at ourvaluesproject@gmail.com or on Facebook.

Comments

Meme Mine

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Condemning billions of helpless children to the greenhouse gas ovens of an exaggerated climate crisis was and still is a total war crime.