Happy Earth Day 2013!!!

Today is the global day of action, education and inspiration to protect the one thing we all share; our planet. Earthday 2013 has been titled The Face of Climate Change, moving from it's traditional interests of pollution and ecological protection to spotlighting the impact of global warming on the inhabitants of our world.

Founded in 1970 Earth Day began as a national day to both learn about and take action on the environmental issues facing the world. Thousands participated in protests and teach-ins on that first April 22, 1970 Earth Day. It was so successful that in 1990 the event became global, and millions of people around the world celebrate Earth Day to remind us all of the work we need to do.

To celebrate this Earth Day 2013 here are three stories you should be following:

Keystone XL

The TransCanada pipeline project now commonly known as Keystone XL, has become a crucial issue in the battle against global warming. Canadian extractors of the heaviest (and dirtiest) form of oil known as tar sands are seeking a way to get their product to market. Blocked from development in their native Canada, these companies are forging alliances in the United States in order to pump the tar sand oil across the United States to refineries in the Gulf. Seen and not only a bad idea environmentally (tars sand oil is one of the most expensive, dirty and difficult oil products to refine) it has also become an symbolic indicator of what path the US will take on combating climate change.

Why It is Important

If the United States approves the pipeline, it signals a refusal to acknowledge the criticality of changing course on energy and a maintaining of the catastrophic "business as usual" system that is threatening the planet.

Where to Start Looking:

Organizations like 350.org and Friends of the Earth have been spearheading action to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from being built. Both have strategies for halting the project, as well as information for those want to learn more or get updates about the issue.

Fracking

Hydraulic Fracturing, nicknamed Fracking, is the process used to try and recover natural gas from rock deep beneath the Earth's surface. The process is problematic on many levels. To free the gas from it's stony prison, high volumes of water and "fracking fluid" made up of toxic chemicals are pumped deep into the ground to fracture the surrounding rock. This process has lead to charges of ground water pollution, toxic effects at the surface, the massive consumption of water, and even earthquakes. Natural gas, while measurably cleaner to burn than coal, is still nonetheless a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming and climate change, and there is evidence that the extraction of the gas actually inadvertently releases the even more potent greenhouse gas methane in high quantities.

Why it is Important

Hydraulic Fracturing is taking off around the United States as companies seek to exploit new technologies and a favorable political climate to reap huge profits. Previous Presidential Administrations have exempted fracking from the usual rules requiring reporting and following clean air and water standards in a rush to support the industry. Drilling for natural gas has become a heavy industry that could literally pop up right in your backyard, yet many are unaware of the full impacts of the practice.

Where to learn about it

The Environmental Working Group has a fracking page with updates and information, and nearly every state in the nation has anti-cracking citizen groups organizing to stop local use of the practice. The website for the documentary "Gasland" actually has a good list of state-by-state anti-fracking organizations

Your Local Community

You don't need to join a large environmental group or take part in a major environmental action to make a difference this Earth Day, just look around your community and try and learn about the environmental issues close to home. Organize your workplace, school or neighborhoods around recycling, commuting or restoring natural places. Tell someone who may not be aware of an issue that interests you about why they should pay attention and what they can do to help. Or just sit down and educate yourself about the people, places and issues that so desperately need our attention.

Get up, get out, and start making a difference this Earth Day!!

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