Cheers to Earth Day 2022!
Join us in celebrating our planet this Earth Day with an event hosted by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Arizona Wilderness Brewery. Learn from change-makers from around the world how brewing beer, revitalizing coral reefs and migrating moose contribute to a thriving future—plus more ways you can take action for nature throughout the year. This free event will be live streamed and also open to the public for those who can make it in person, just register here. Look forward to live interviews with scientists and special guests including Aloe Blacc, a singer, songwriter and activist, as well as Coyote Peterson, adventurer and animal expert. Come join us as we “Planet Together” for Earth Day!
Date & Time: Friday, April 22nd from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm hybrid event; live event continues after.
Location: Online OR Arizona Wilderness Brewery – Downtown Phoenix Location: 201 E Roosevelt St., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Why do we Celebrate Earth Day?
Before the environmental movements that led to the first Earth Day in 1970, Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring created a huge surge of public awareness and concern for wildlife and human health. For so long, America was oblivious to the environmental concerns of using inefficient automobiles, unchecked greenhouse gas emissions from industrial plants, and producing unmanageable amounts of waste as consumers. Carson’s Silent Spring shed a much-needed light on the threats that a polluted environment has on humans and the planet, especially from DDT, an extremely harsh pesticide that is now known to cause cancer and genetic damage.
Although Rachel Carson’s book drew attention to environmental issues, much of the fight for environmental regulation was led by BIPOC communities who were being disproportionately affected by the environmental degradation produced by society. Hazel Johnson was a community activist in Chicago’s South-side known to many as the mother of Environmental Justice. Seeing how her community was being used as a dumpsite for industry pollution, she created People for Community Recovery; A non-profit aimed to combat environmental racism. Her initiative helped install clean and safe water lines for thousands, remove toxic waste dump sites in her neighborhood, and revolutionize the environmental movement to come to terms with its lack of racial awareness.
As more and more people started realizing the environmental impact of our decisions, the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California seemed to be the last straw. Frustrated with the oil-spill and the lack of large-scale leadership on environmental issues, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson decided to organize a teach-in event which immediately sparked the attention of national media. Nelson and fellow youth activist Denis Hayes chose April 22, 1970 as the date for the event, marking it as the first ever Earth Day. This event inspired 20 million Americans to take to the streets to demonstrate the impacts of industrial development and pollution on human and wildlife health. Groups participating in this event were fighting against very serious issues such as oil spills, mismanaged raw sewage treatment, toxic dumps, harmful pesticides, and mass species extinction. Their shared values and concern for the planet received rare political alignment. Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban citizens and farmers, businesses and labor leaders all came together to make Earth Day a celebration and call to action for generations to come.
Today, global nonprofit organizations like The Nature Conservancy are working to create a world where people and nature can thrive. Earth Day plays a big role in getting the public involved in conservation and climate change solutions, and TNC expresses the importance of working together to save the planet. Every Earth Day (and all the days in between), TNC supports the public and businesses to learn about nature, discover the conservation projects taking place around the world, participate in citizen science, and take action to ensure our political leadership is committed to our planet.
The Nature Conservancy is dedicated to conserving the lands and waters humans and wildlife depend on. A meaningful way to tackle the negative impacts climate change has on these resources is proper environmental stewardship. When agriculture and food systems benefit the environment and people, then our sustainability goals are achievable. TNC works towards fostering innovations in technology, collaboration with communities, and promoting policies that enable sustainable food and water systems by working with 76 different countries and territories around the world. They emphasize that together, we can secure healthy food and clean, accessible water for everyone without sacrificing the needs of the natural world.
If you are interested in participating in or learning more about conservation opportunities, check out The Nature Conservancy’s blog, Cool Green Science, as well as their Get Involved page. Remember, if you want to do your part to save our planet, treat every day like Earth Day!
What’s on tap in the Arizona Desert?
The TNC Earth Day celebration is taking place in Arizona, which is one of America’s most vulnerable states to the growing adverse effects of climate change. Average temperatures have risen by almost two degrees Fahrenheit in the past several decades, according to the IPCC, and are projected to increase by another three to five degrees by 2050 if we do not change the way we approach climate issues. In Arizona, rapid sprawling urbanization is a major contributor to environmental concerns such as the urban heat island effect, increasing wildfires and dust storms, and water insecurity.
Not only is water usage increasing as the state’s population grows, but Arizona has also been suffering from the worst drought in a century for the past 10 years. In order to adapt to the major stresses in our ground and surface water systems, the state will need to reallocate water resources. Namely 70% of available water is currently being used for the global agricultural industry alone (Doungmanee, 2016). Despite consuming so much of our water resources, farming and ranching produce only 1.7% of Arizona’s GDP (Economic Impact of Agriculture); so how can we fix this issue?
Along with implementing sustainable practices such as drip irrigation systems and crop cycling with plants that require less water, we also need to push for sustainability in business. This is where local businesses like Arizona Wilderness Brewery come in!
Sustainable businesses make waves for environmental action
Arizona Wilderness Brewery is a small business located in Phoenix that is dedicated to getting their customers to drink like they care. Quite literally. Their slogan “drink like you care” is a call to action to educate and remind people that their decisions as consumers have an affect on communities and our planet. AZ Wilderness partners with Arizona farmers to focus on locally-grown ingredients, put intention behind every product, and compost food scraps. They have also created a business solution for Arizona’s water shortage: This Beer Saves Water. This signature beer is made with barley from Sinagua Malt, a benefit corporation based in Arizona’s Verde Valley that aims to offset the declining flows in the Verde River. Jon Buford, CEO and Brewmaster at AZ Wilderness Brewery, is dedicated to working with local businesses to find market solutions to Arizona’s water issues.
“Being in the desert, we should be the most sustainable state because we have limited resources, but we are the least sustainable which is mind-boggling.” – Jon Buford, AZ Wilderness
Sinagua Malt works with local farmers to shift the agricultural industry from using traditional summer crops like corn and alfalfa to using late winter/spring crops like barley and hops. This crop-switching method results in much less water being diverted from the Verde River during high-demand, low streamflow periods of the year. Due to their efforts, Sinagua has kept more than 425 million gallons of water in the Verde River that would have otherwise gone to less drought-tolerant crops.
“Our purpose was to improve declining river flows in the Verde Watershed. We didn’t come at it like we are a business and we are looking for another way to profit. It was kind of the other way around, and there’s an opportunity to provide habitat to keep rivers flowing.” – Chip Norton, President, Sinagua Malt
All of AZ Wilderness’ beer uses Sinagua Malt as a base, but their signature, “This Beer Saves Water”, is made with 100% Sinagua malt, making the beer truly live up to its name. Every pint of Wilderness beer helps offset more than 50 gallons of water for Arizona’s waterways. AZ Wilderness’ emphasis on sustainability and connection to their local community should be an inspiration to all businesses as they pave the way for business-led environmental action. Sustainable businesses like this get people to start thinking about how their personal decisions impact the environment and to support businesses that are being proactive about sustainability and conservation initiatives. To learn more about sustainable innovations like using beer to save water, check out TNC’s article, Barely Dreams.
“I want people to sit here and think “wow I’m at a sustainable minded brewery” and it doesn’t feel much different. How we compost, how we support local businesses, how we spread the wealth, we want to show that it’s not weird and that it can be the norm.” – Jon Buford
Doungmanee, P., The nexus of agricultural water use and economic development level, Kasetsart Journal of Social Sciences, Volume 37, Issue 1, 2016, Pages 38-45, ISSN 2452-3151, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.kjss.2016.01.008.
Economic Impact of Agriculture, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research & Extension, https://economic-impact-of-ag.uada.edu/arizona/.