By Halle Thornton
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Earth Day is an annual event created to celebrate the planet’s environment and raise public awareness about pollution by reminding people to think about humanity’s values, the threats the planet faces and ways to help protect the environment.
Earth Day has become a week-long celebration, focusing on green topics and activities.
Earth Day was started in 1970 as a day of political action, civic participation and awareness building for environmental issues including pollution, climate change, threatened and endangered species and biodiversity conservation.
“Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of the Earth Day Network, whose mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.
Rogers said Earth Day is a day of political action and civic participation.
“People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees and clean up their towns and roads,” she said. “Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures.”
The theme of Earth Day 2019 is “Protect our Species.”
“We’re currently seeing an extremely high rate of species extinctions worldwide due to deforestation, habitat loss, climate change, pollution and pesticides, just to name a few factors,” said Matthew Lawton, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron cultural and natural resources manager. “That loss of biodiversity affects not only the most threatened and endangered species, but also common ones like bees, songbirds and wildflowers.”
Lawton said although it may not look it, Schriever Air Force Base is a high-quality habitat for many prairie species, including the Burrowing Owl — a species listed by the State of Colorado as threatened — and plants like the Prairie Violet.
Schriever Airmen can look for opportunities to make small changes on base because they can have a big impact.
“Last year, Schriever Airmen noticed a large number of dead birds that had flown into windows and sky bridges on base,” Lawton said. “They worked with the Natural Resources program to place polarized decals on windows, helping birds avoid them.”
Additionally, Lawton said reducing waste, recycling and looking for ways to save energy, like turning off lights in unused areas or carpooling when possible, are all ways to contribute to a healthier planet.
As a native Colorado, lifelong hiker and river runner, and ecologist, Lawton said Colorado’s natural beauty and ecological uniqueness has always inspired him to understand, protect and restore the environment.
“It’s not just my love for the Colorado mountains,” he said. “Failing to protect the environment has resulted in threats to agriculture, infrastructure, health and our way of life. Out of control floods like Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska is experiencing right now and monster hurricanes like the one that damaged Tyndall AFB, Florida last year are exactly what we’d expect to see in a changing, warming climate, and that’s just within our Air Force family.”
50th CES Environmental office will be outside the Satellite Dish dining facility April 22 giving out free aluminum water bottles, drawings for camping gear and environmental protection information.
“Come on by and say hello,” Lawton said. “I’m also good for recommendations for hiking trails and camping spots, but you’ll never get my undiscovered campsite near Cripple Creek out of me.”
For more information about Earth Day, contact Lawton at 719-567-3361.