Given the change in national administration, and the resulting worries of the environmental and scientific community, one of the most important causes to get yourself involved with is protecting our environment. Environmental protection has emerged as an issue that demand intense policy attention, scientific research, and environmental and health protection efforts.
Throughout a career focused on research, conservation, risk assessment, and protection of the environment, I have always hoped to teach this lesson: Without a healthy environment, we can’t envision a bright future for our planet. Support for the anti-science, anti-climate change, anti-regulation, and anti-federal government undercurrent that we had been aware of for years seems now to be what leadership may choose to interpret as mainstream, and may become the emerging governmental ethos. Now more than ever, it is important to do what we can to support environmental groups that share and represent our concerns and values.
There are a number of nonprofits around the country dedicated to helping the environment. There are a plethora of excellent local and regional environmental organizations, but below are some of my favorite national and international organizations that work to protect the health of the planet, and as a result, the people and wildlife that inhabit it. These are some that I personally feel are of particular importance:
1) Environmental Defense Fund
With more than 1.5 million members, the Environmental Defense Fund is one of the world’s largest environmental organizations. The organization, an environmental advocacy group focusing on legal issues, has a staff of 500 scientists, policy experts, economists and other professionals around the world. The Environmental Defense Fund protects natural systems while also finding solutions that benefit people in order achieve their results, often utilizing market-based solutions to the environmental problems they tackle.
2) The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy knows that one of the best ways to protect land these days is to buy it. They use the private sector to help fund the acquisition of threatened lands, and establish groups in nearby areas to help protect and conserve the land once it becomes privately owned, with a tangible record of success. Using land trusts, conservation easements, private reserves, and incentives to help protect ecosystems, the Conservancy has helped protect nearly 21 million acres in the U.S., and the organization itself owns about 2 million of those acres, and holds over 3 million additional acres in conservation easements. Additionally, they have helped local communities and governments outside the U.S. to protect more than 103 million acres globally.
Oceana is an international group with a focus solely on the world’s oceans. The organization was created when a 1999 study revealed that less than 0.5 percent of the resources spent by nonprofit groups focusing on environmental issues in the United States went to ocean advocacy. This organization formed shortly thereafter with the sole priority of protecting and restoring the oceans globally. Using data, research, directed strategy, fixed-deadlines, and measurable goals to achieve change, Oceana has won more than 100 victories and has protected over 1,000,000 square miles of ocean.
4) Wildlife Conservation Society
Making constant efforts to save wild animals in wild environments, the Wildlife Conservation Society is dedicated to maintaining the world’s biodiversity. It focuses on 15 priority regions which are home to more than half of the world’s biodiversity. The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife through education, science, conservation action and inspiring people around the world value nature. In the future, WCS is hoping to keep its historic focus on protecting species while also hoping to engage with our rapidly changing word.
5) Sierra Club
Founded in 1892, the Sierra Club is one of the biggest and oldest grassroots environmental organizations in the United States. This organization is historically significant, having been founded by renowned preservationist John Muir, and has more than two million members and supporters. Their successes include protecting millions of acres of wilderness as well as helping pass the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act. They have recently been making efforts to move away from fossil fuels and to encourage people and businesses to use clean energy instead. You have the Sierra Club’s lobbying to thank for the majority of the earliest-established National Parks in the country.
6) Rainforest Trust
The Rainforest Trust is dedicated to establishing protected reserves and defending threatened tropical forests and the wildlife within them. They partner with local organizations and communities that neighbor the vulnerable land for more effective protection. The intimate ecosystem knowledge and proximity of the locals, as well as partnership with national governments is their key to achieving long-term results in protecting the biodiversity of threatened areas.
7) World Resources Institute
A global research organization of more than 450 experts, the goal of the WRI is global momentum towards protecting the environment in 6 key areas. These areas are: Climate, energy, food, forests, water, and sustainable cities. Using scientists around the world, they use high-quality research and data with objective analysis to work towards natural resource solutions with governments, businesses, and civil-society in countries all over the world. They work in more than 50 countries globally, with offices in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, and the U.S.
8) Environmental Law Institute
The Environmental Law Institute may not be a field conservation organization, but it educates and trains lawyers, judges, scientists, environmental practitioners, and concerned citizens in a non-partisan but extremely effective way. In many ways, it serves as a Washington nexus for those who hope to affect environmental policy and law in a positive fashion, primarily in the US, but elsewhere as well.
9) The Institute for Conservation Leadership
ICL fulfills a need that most people don’t think of when they make decisions about which organizations to support. It works on developing environmental leaders, helping train them, teaching them to collaborate effectively with others, and provides guidance on building effective environmental organizations. It is unique in offering training on organizational management as well as on developing boards of directors that will help organizations best achieve their environmental goals.
One cannot overestimate the importance of protecting the Earth’s environment and wildlife in order to prepare for a greener and healthier tomorrow. These organizations all play significant roles in working toward this goal. They are looking out for you and your families’ future. If you care about the environment, get involved with or offer support to one or more of these organizations. You won’t regret it.