Meteors are shining down upon our precious planet on this Earth Day as the annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks today, visible through the end of this week.
The meteor shower occurs as the Earth passes through a cloud of comet debris, giving us a show of up to 20 meteors each hour moving at speeds of 110,000 miles per hour.
Not only does it serve to remind us of where our Earth comes from, but of how humans have long enjoyed these celestial events. Lyrid showers have been observed since at least 687 BC when Chinese astronomers described them "falling like rain."
Confucius was alive at that time, NASA reminds us, and his signature principle is surely relevant today: "Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself."
Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere have the best view, although it could be partially washed out by the moon. NASA will stream the show live from our space station, starting at 8:30 pm Eastern Time.
Good News on Earth Day
On last year's Earth Day, polluters announced they would take the EPA to the Supreme Court in a fourth attempt to prevent greenhouse gas regulations.
This year, the news is better. In the US, 56.58% of new energy capacity under development is renewable, mostly from wind, compared to 30.52% from natural gas, according to SNL.
Over the next few years, some 25 gigawatts (GW) of coal plants will close - 15 GW of that by next year when EPA's long overdue Mercury and Air Toxics Standards take effect.
By the way, the EPA just won that court battle in the US Court of Appeals, where coal companies tried to derail those standards.
And in the annual report card on who's still financing coal, the good news is that some big banks are finally seeking greener pastures. Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase have both committed stop financing mountaintop removal coal mining companies, and Goldman Sachs decided against financing the embattled Gateway Pacific Coal Export Terminal, which would threaten Washington State's Puget Sound.
Still, coal-fired power plants received $31 billion in financing last year, led by Citibank ($6.5 billion) and Barclays on mountaintop removal, followed by Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and PNC Financial, according to Extreme Investments, Extreme Consequences.
The best news, however, is that the Rodale Institute is launching a global campaign to restructure our global food system toward organic agriculture - because that along with valuing healthy, biodiverse forests - is really the basis for winning over climate change.
We can sequester more than 100% of carbon emissions if we move to widely available, inexpensive organic agriculture - 40% from cropland and another 71% from pastureland, says Rodale's white paper, Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming.
Sequestering over 100% means we would be removing carbon from the atmosphere, reversing the greenhouse effect.
The authors say: "There is hope right beneath our feet. There is a technology for massive planetary geo-engineering that is tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now. It costs little and is adaptable to local contexts the world over. It can be rolled out tomorrow and the solution is farming. Not just business-as-usual industrial farming, but farming like the Earth matters. Farming like water and soil and land matter. Farming like clean air matters. Farming like human health, animal health and ecosystem health matters. Farming in a way that restores and even improves on soil's natural ability to hold carbon. This kind of farming is called regenerative organic agriculture and it is the short-term solution to climate change we need to implement today."
The UN is also calling for an overhaul of the world's food system, starting with a trend we're already seeing - the rise of urban farming, creating locally grown, organic food. We're seeing it in Alan Savory's incredible work on restoring pastureland across the world.
Read our article, How Earth Day Got Its Start.
Read Rodale's white paper: