What’s Up With the Rainforest: More Hope, Less Blame – in Praise of Eco-Warriors

Celebrations of Earth Day last week garnered some more of the world’s attention to the environmental crisis threatening the health of the global community and our planet, but we must not forget that working towards a sustainable future is a responsibility that will require dedication all 365 days of the year. And while some corporations have jumped on the eco-bandwagon in an attempt to attract the green consumer, we would like to call attention to the unsung heroes.

The individuals, communities, and national leaders who have continually shown a dedication to environmental activism, not driven by profit or personal gain, but by the mission of ensuring we have something to celebrate in the decades to come. We, along with our partner Rainforest Alliance, encourage you to join them, because even though there may be little acclaim for the individual in doing the right thing for the planet, your efforts will lead to rewards that extend far beyond your time.

Our first story reviews a documentary, Climate of Change, which takes a “refreshingly positive look at the future of our planet,” revealing the impact actions from committed individuals and small groups from around the group are having on the health of our planet. And in doing so, provides the ingredients we need to take the next step for a better tomorrow — “passionate young people, quiet heroes and, most importantly, hope.”

Education is essential for equipping the younger generation with the knowledge of how to prevent a history of destruction from repeating itself, but also provides the perfect opportunity to instill activism and concern for the broader community from the very beginning. As seen in South Carolina, where a “Save the Rainforest Club” at Ebinport Elementary School doesn’t just teach students about the rainforest, it encourages them to take action — raising thousands of dollars at events such as “Earth Day Birthday” where club members sold recyclable bags they made themselves, auction off pictures they made in the club and sell bookmarks.

Another young individual trying to do his part is 12-year-old Koa Halpern, who is challenging us all to give up fast food as a way to decrease the stress on the environment the fast food industry has created. Wise beyond his years, this passionate young man started the organization Fast Food Free, along with the Web site fastfoodfree.org, in order to encourage and educate individuals to make this pledge for a healthier lifestyle and planet.

Next, an interview with Bianca Jagger, who after spending the last 30 years as a human rights, social justice and environmental protection advocate has proved time and again her dedication to the planet. Jagger’s discussion of her latest mission in Niyamgiri not only gives a candid insight into a region where “multinational mining giant Vedanta’s operations are threatening the tribals with extinction” but will prompt you to ask yourself, “Are we willing to endanger individuals survival, in order to enable corporations to exploit our natural resources?”

In the Republic of Korea, we see individuals being recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with a Champion of the Earth award for their leadership in the fight to preserve biodiversity and combat climate change. President Bharrat Jagdeo was one of these recipients, being acknowledged specifically for his ability to recognize the scope of green economy benefits, in terms of not only battling climate change but also “in terms of development; employment; improved water supplies and the conservation of biodiversity.”

While its obvious that there are many individuals taking action towards fixing the devastating actions of our past, we end with a look at what we need to accomplish in the next 40 years in order make the future a change for the better. Let’s not waste the can-do energy Earth Day has rejuvenated. Our planet needs more than just 24 hours of R&R so we urge you to stay informed on the latest issues and visit the Rainforest Alliance on Facebook to connect with fellow activists.

James Boyce is the founder of Common Sense, an advertising agency supporting progressive causes like the Rainforest Alliance, Human Rights First, Natural Resources Defense Council, and others. James was one of the original contributors to The Huffington Post and is one of the top progressive bloggers in the country.

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