The Environment and Peace: 4 Ways to Save the World

By: Kiersten Nickel, Greenheart Exchange High School Programs Staff

Have you ever thought about how our planet’s health affects how we interact with one another? For this month’s take on our theme, Standing with the Environment, we are diving into the relationship between our planet’s health and how it can help or hinder our ability to promote and maintain peace.

In 1981, the UN designated September 21st as the International Day of Peace, “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.” This year, moved by the effect the earth’s climate is having on populations and resources, the UN has chosen to dedicate this Peace Day to UN Sustainable Development Goal 13. This will work to emphasize the connection between climate change and global peace, citing that climate change has had a direct effect on international peace and security and its impact will only grow.

“Natural disasters displace three times as many people as conflicts, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere.”

As we continue to see climate change affect our natural resources, we will likely see increased armed conflict over access to resources and mass migration from areas heavily impacted. According to the United Nations, “natural disasters displace three times as many people as conflicts, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere.” The reality is that there isn’t a facet of humanity that climate change doesn’t affect and because of its immense impact on our communities, the effects of climate change will likely lead to increased conflict and tension in populations worldwide.

So, what can we do?

The good news is since this issue affects all of us, we can all be a part of the solution! Here are 4 tangible things you can do to help promote peace:

 1.Small actions matter!

Think about the things you consume and how doing so might affect others. Is the almond milk you’re drinking contributing to the water scarcity in California? Is the red meat you’re consuming contributing to deforestation in the Amazon and the forced migration of indigenous people in that part of the world? Ask yourself the challenging questions, and think: how can I begin to divest from these systems? Small actions can truly have a massive impact! Be conscientious of what you consume and how it affects the world around you. Try making small changes in your life like switching to oat milk or only eating red meat on special occasion. You’d be surprised by how many little changes can help promote peace in our world.

2. Donate, donate, donate!

Although donating money isn’t always a realistic option or might not feel like the most interactive way to contribute to a cause, it is one of the most important ways to sustain the organizations doing the work on the ground. There are tons of great organizations working to preserve our resources and combating environmental injustice. Here are a few places you can donate:

  • Rainforest Action Network –  Mission: “Rainforest Action Network preserves forests, protects the climate and upholds human rights by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns.” Charity rating: 89.83%
  • 350.org – Mission:  “350.org is building a global grassroots climate movement that can hold our leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of justice. That movement is rising from the bottom up all over the world, and is uniting to create the solutions that will ensure a better future for all. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions bring together a global network active in over 188 countries.” Charity rating: 95.03%
  • Conservation International – Mission: “Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, Conservation International empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of humanity.” Charity rating: 96.90%

3. Talk about it!

The UN explains that raising awareness is one of the most impactful and important ways for folks to get involved. If you’ve decided to make changes in your life to help promote environmental peace, share it with your communities! Explain to your friends and family why you’re making changes and how your actions affect others. You might create a ripple affect and get those around you to start thinking about their own actions.

4. Check out the UN’s International Day of Peace!

There are events taking place across the globe to celebrate the International Day of Peace. If you’re in Chicago, you can check out the Peace Day in Chicago. If you’re located in another area, look up Day of Peace celebrations near you or check out the UN’s live webcast of the annual Peace Bell Ceremony at 9am EST on September 21st.

All of our actions have impact – so make the choice this month to promote peace in how you interact with the globe, and spread the word!

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