Five Reasons to Make Facebook Time
for the Rainforest Action Network
By Hank Edson
I find Facebook fun and informative – a great way to stay connected to my friends and to be enriched by the things they share. There may be negatives to the evolving social network culture, but I prefer to focus on the positive. My purpose in writing today is to highlight one really great positive: the Rainforest Action Network!
If you are like me, your most frequent Facebook encounter involves checking your News Feed where you can see posts from your friends and the organizations you like. When I do this, I apply my own selective filter: there are the people whose posts I slide by like a greased pig and there are the ones close to my heart whose posts I not only read, but whose links I follow, whose pictures I comment on, and whose videos make me laugh and cry.
I value certain people’s posts enough to give them my time based on my high estimation of their je ne sais quoi, the way they complement and entertain my own quirky outlook. I bet you have some such type of filter too.
The reason I’m writing today is to make the case for devoting some of your News Feed mental space to following the Rainforest Action Network with affection and attention.
To do this, the first thing you need to do is “like” the Rainforest Action Network. You can do this by going to its fan page, http://www.facebook.com/rainforestactionnetwork, and clicking the like button next to its name.
Now, let me quickly give you five reasons I think you will come to highly value the posts Rainforest Action Network shares with you:
1. Teeth: The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is not a timid bunch. Their motto is “Environmentalism with Teeth,” and they put their mouth where their motto is. They know how to get the public’s attention focused on important issues, but they do it with an appropriate mix of humor, guile, outrage and reason that is 100% committed to nonviolence. Recently RAN climbers rappelled off the Richmond Bridge to hang a giant banner near a Chevron refinery advertising the $18 billion guilty verdict handed down against Chevron by an Equadorean court for Chevron’s conduct polluting Indigenous lands and waters in the Amazon, a verdict RAN played a large part in achieving. Earlier this year, RAN teamed up with the Yes Men to spoof Chevron’s greenwash “We Agree” campaign with parodies that had quotes from real Chevron employees stating that Chevron should take responsibility for its environmental and human rights abuses. Take time to read RAN’s News Feed posts and you will see video of the world’s most creative and effective environmental activists making a real and positive impact. If reading about two women stopping Mountaintop Removal by sitting atop 80-foot trees 300 feet from a planned blasting zone doesn’t make your day, I don’t know what will.
2. Sophistication: For all RAN’s innovative protest actions, what’s even more impressive to me is the sophistication with which RAN has pressured one industry after another to develop business practice standards that require consideration of environmental impacts and the demands of indigenous communities. Once these standards are applied, RAN then develops a report card that ranks the performance of industry players according to their own adopted standards. The children’s book publishing industry, the fashion industry, wood product retailers such as Home Depot, home builders such as Centex Homes and Kaufman and Broad, food manufacturers using palm oil (estimated to be found in 50% of all food products in the U.S.), logging and milling industries, the oil industry, the electronics industry, and Fortune 500 members are all examples of economic sectors that have been compelled by RAN campaigns to adopt more environmentally sound policies. RAN’s published reports are visually stunning, easy to read, and factually rich. The analysis they provide makes it clear that this is an organization that professionally can’t be beat. Follow RAN’s News Feed and you will receive an education in the market dynamics devouring our environment and the cutting edge tools RAN has developed to turn these dynamics to good use on behalf of the environment. It’s an education we all need and is well worth the time it takes for RAN to give it to you.
3. Amazing Success: And as my mother always says, the proof is in the pudding. For a jaw dropping list of RAN’s accomplishments over the last 25 years, check out the timeline at: http://ran.org/content/success-stories. This list not only details the concessions and changes won from the industries mentioned above and many more, but it also details destructive development projects stopped, such as the Nam Choan Dam once slated to be built in Thailand, and bad contracts cancelled, such as Burger King’s commitment to purchase $35 million in rainforest beef. Also in this list are the unprecedented victories for wilderness preservation, such as the Brazilian government’s official recognition of indigenous people’s land rights and the preservation of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, the largest conversion in North American history of rainforest owned by logging companies into protected wilderness. After 25 years of such success, we ought to recognize the benefit we get from giving RAN a few moments of our time when it shares something on Facebook about the environment. It’s our chance to read some of the good news usually in short supply in newspapers.
4. Rainforests: Rainforests may seem an exotic and remote cause too far distant to warrant our time from where we sit at home or work surfing the internet. Such a thought, however, is akin to saying that, from the vantage point on our sensory organs, our heart, lungs, and other vital internal organs are far too inaccessible to be relevant to our experience of life. The clouds generated by rainforests reflect sunlight back into space in much the same way our polar caps do so long as they don’t melt. Rainforests absorb huge quantities of carbon dioxide, removing green house gas from the atmosphere, breathing out abundant oxygen, and stabilizing our planetary climate. So important is their role to the entire planet, many call tropical rainforests the Earth’s lungs. 50% to 80% of all water in rainforest areas remains active in the hydrologic cycle because of the water released by trees in converting CO2 during photosynthesis. One fifth of the world’s freshwater is found in the Amazon hydrologic cycle. Without rainforests, drought and desertification is likely to ensue in what were previously the Earth’s most hydrologically productive environments. The Amazon rainforest is also the Earth’s greatest center of biodiversity with ten times more species per square kilometer than are found in North America. Nearly half the medicinal compounds we use every day come from plants found in tropical rainforests. This biological abundance is the result of the substantial rainfall rainforests produce, the consistently warm temperatures in the equatorial regions making survival easier, and the absence of periods of extreme loss of life caused elsewhere by ice ages. According to the fossil record, tropical rainforests are also the Earth’s oldest continuous ecosystems, existing in present form for 70 to 100 million years. Destruction of tropical rainforests is thus destruction of a biologically diverse treasure trove, a fresh water source, a planetary temperature (i.e., climate) stabilizer and an atmospheric circulatory engine that required 100 million years to make. Taking a minute to read an update from the world’s most dynamic environmental organization that specializes in preventing ignorant destruction of our rainforests and the consequent devastation to our Gaia body is simply good sense.
5. Mountaintop Removal: If the destruction of the Earth’s rainforests is one of the most destabilizing human forces upsetting the wellbeing of life on our planet, mountaintop removal is perhaps the most sacrilegious and visceral demonstration of the blind and pathological greed of “dirty energy” corporate leadership. Aerial photos of clear cut old growth forests are disturbing and deeply painful, but worse are pictures of what is being done to our mountains, which are older and much more slowly developing even than old growth forests. The literal obliteration of our mountains for coal is an offense of a magnitude words cannot measure. Seeing the proud rocky forms that make mountains turned into sludge that is poured by the mile as fill into canyons and valleys and water systems that no being ever desired to be filled is a nightmare vision that will haunt our society as the other great crimes of our age still do. Mountaintop removal has already destroyed the communities and health of large numbers of the American citizens living where “King Coal” has disregarded their rights and welfare. With the same relentless sophistication employed in other markets, RAN has identified the players in the financial industry lending money to corporations like Massey Energy Company, the largest producer of coal from mountaintop removal. I highly recommend checking out RAN’s report card on lenders pressured by RAN to develop policies prohibiting loans supporting mountaintop removal projects (http://ran.org/sites/default/files/mtr_reportcard_2011.pdf). RAN is cutting off the funding stream that keeps this criminal conduct alive in our own nation. We all should be engaged in this issue and we can find no better source of information or of ways to put our civic and financial power into action than RAN. RAN makes it easy to stay engaged with their Facebook News Feed.
Conclusion: You may or may not think of yourself as an environmentalist. It doesn’t matter. Rainforest Action Network is a dynamic interesting organization to follow. If you are engaged in environmental causes, following RAN should appeal to you because its work offers such an exciting and hopeful example of leadership. If you are not engaged in environmental causes, following RAN should appeal to you as a way to really keep in the know without having to further overload your already overloaded schedule. Last, don’t underestimate the contribution you make as a member of the community following RAN’s Facebook News Feed. The only way we will change our relationship to the environment to a healthier, happier and more sustainable one is collectively. It all begins with a “like.” Do yourself and your planet a favor and click this link, http://www.facebook.com/rainforestactionnetwork, and then click that you “like” the Rainforest Action Network.
Also, if you will share this blog with your social network, you will be further helping grow the community of people aware of the Rainforest Action Network’s ongoing efforts to protect the planet!