In a mostly forgotten, 1972 post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, “Silent Running,” Bruce Dern plays an astronaut/botanist who struggles to save Earth’s last remaining plant life, which was jettisoned into space as the planet’s vegetation dies. In her ’60s hit song, “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell laments how, “They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum,” and “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Fear of environmental disaster has been around for a long time.
Last week I strolled through Hofstra University’s campus, which is filled with natural beauty as thousands of tulips rise from the earth each spring. As I walked, I thought about this Earth Day’s March for Science, inspired by fears that shortsightedness in Washington truly threatens the future of our planet. Business interests seem to again be taking precedent over water, air and earth conservation as the president vows to shrink, if not eliminate, environmental protection budgets.
This is why it was so important that millions of people demonstrated in hundreds of cities around the world this weekend. It was a true public relations event with a simple, crucial goal: to send a strong signal to lawmakers that our planet cannot be sacrificed on the presumption of creating jobs. Among the protesters’ messages were statistics noting the green economy is actually creating more opportunities than those derived from fossil fuels. The Financial Times recently reported, “The number of jobs in the global renewable energy industry grew by five per cent last year, in stark contrast to the steep losses suffered by the oil and gas sector.” Sean Cockerham of McClatchy noted, “Far more jobs have been created in wind and solar in recent years than lost in the collapse of the coal industry, and renewable energy is poised for record growth.”
Staging a protest is among the purest forms of public relations because PR works to inform, reinforce, create, and change attitudes. The March for Science was a PR event designed to do all of the above–to convince and remind everyone to protect Hofstra’s tulips–and to save our planet. Your thoughts?