CARTERET COUNTY — Wednesday is Earth Day, and with the novel coronavirus outbreak, local environmentalists have suggestions on how residents can celebrate the event while social distancing.
According to the Earth Day Network website, earthday.org, Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the Earth Day celebration. Carteret County is home to several environmental organizations, such as the N.C. Coastal Federation, the Croatan Group of the Sierra Club and The Crystal Coast Waterkeeper’s Office.
This year, NCCF program coordinator Rachel Bisesi suggests the environmentally minded visit the federation’s new distance learning lab, available online at nccoast.org/distance-learning-lab/.
“With help from out wonderful partners, we’ve complied educational resources which allow others to dive deeper into the world of coastal sciences and solutions,” Ms. Bisesi said. “This web page has many different videos that (families) can watch to learn more about coastal North Carolina.”
The website also has activity ides, such as crafts and simple experiments people can do at home, according to Ms. Bisesi.
“The page also suggests that if they can do so safely and socially distance from others, to go for a walk around their yard or neighborhood and collect any litter they find,” she said.
Ms. Bisesi suggested downloading the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Tracker App, available in the Google Play store for Android and the Apple app store. The app allows users to record data on what kind of litter they collect, which will help focus marine debris prevention efforts in the future.
Meanwhile, Croatan Group Co-Chairperson and N.C. Interfaith Power and Light Leadership Council Chairperson Penny Hooper said this year seems like “an incredible important time to consider another major crisis: climate change.”
“COVID-19 has shown us that the federal government must respect science and understand that we are part of a global community,” Ms. Hooper said. “It’s also shown us that huge amounts of money can be made available in America very quickly for combating crises and that we have a moral responsibility to care for the least among us which are hit the hardest by these crises. How Americans will respond for the long run economic downturn from the drastic effects of COVID-19 is the question we need to consider going forward.”
For this year’s Earth Day, Ms. Hooper suggest people look to plant trees. She said this is a way to address climate change because trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help stabilize shorelines.
“The ‘ghost forests’ we have on the Carteret waterfront in our area (are) from saltwater intrusion from rising sea level,” she said. “Dying trees (are also) from drastic changes in precipitation levels, like the 110 inches of coastal rainfall we had in 2018 as compared to our previous ‘normal’ of 35-45 inches per year, and the winds and salt spray of hurricanes like Florence, which allowed pine bark beetle infestations. Everyone can see these ghost forests as proof of climate change.”
Ms. Hooper said action can also be taken online with NCIPL on its Facebook page, facebook.com/InterfaithPowerandLight/. Among the actions that can be taken is signing the Faith Climate Voter Pledge.
Ms. Hooper said NCIPL is also sponsoring free viewings of “The Human Element,” a documentary she said “advocates and educates about climate change.”
The movie may be viewed online during Earth Week at interfaithpowerandlight.org/2020/01/the-human-element/.
In Morehead City, where the Crystal Coast Waterkeeper’s Office is located, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch program coordinator Rebecca Drohan said CCR, the waterkeeper office’s parent organization, is approaching Earth Day with a “think globally, act locally” mindset.
“We’re encouraging everyone to look at consumption patterns in our own homes and think of ways to lower our environmental impacts overall,” she said. “We’re remaining interactive during this time through our Coastal Connection Challenge Facebook group, open to the public and all are welcome.”
The challenge, available at facebook.com/groups/coastalconnectionchallenge/, is a weekly exercise focused on “appreciating the natural world.” For the week of Earth Day, CCR suggests participants use a water footprint calculator to determine their water use.
“Participants are encouraged to explore exercises such as nature appreciation, zero-waste cooking, monitoring personal water usage and supporting local businesses and fisheries,” Ms. Drohan said. “We can still connect and reflect on how we can protect our environment from home this year.”
Environmental groups aren’t the only ones with suggestions. N.C. Aquariums also have suggestions, including tree planting, beach cleanups and bike riding.
According to a release from the state aquariums, at the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, the education team has created nature craft videos online to show kids how they can interact with nature in their own backyards.
Aquarium Assistant Communications Director Shannon Kemp said a new video is featured every day.
“Our team shows people how they can paint with items from nature,” she said, “and how they can make bubble wands from natural items rather than use the single-use plastic bubble wands.”
Ms. Kemp said all the videos will be shared on the aquarium’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/ncaquarium, and on their social media platforms, as well as the NCLearn@Home website, ncdcr.gov/learn/nclearnhome.
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.