Supporting Environmental Charities
Environmental charities are nonprofit organizations dedicated to safeguarding the natural systems of Planet Earth. These nature-focused charities acknowledge that human beings are merely one species living in a complex ecosystem. Yet human behavior has a disproportionate effect on the health of the environment — eradicating natural habitats, spreading pollution, and emitting greenhouse gases. Environmental charities strive to reverse this trend, promoting sustainable and renewable practices to ensure Planet Earth’s continued survival.
Charities that help protect the environment exist all over the world in countless shapes and sizes. Though there are several common categories of these organizations, including Broad-Based Environmental Organizations as well as Climate Change, Clean Energy, Pollution Issues, and Conservation charities.
Broad-Based Environmental Organizations
Broad-based environmental organizations include some of the best environmental nonprofits that feature a large-scale focus. These organizations advocate for wholesale changes to safeguard Planet Earth, rather than concentrating on a particular end goal, such as ending global warming or conserving natural systems.
An example of a broad-based environmental organization is the Delta Institute. Since 1998, this nonprofit environmental group has championed innovation in the environmental and economic sectors. To achieve its organizational goals, the Delta Institute interacts with local communities to address environmental issues across the Midwestern region of the United States.
In addition to the traditional areas of emphasis for top environmental nonprofits — such as climate change, clean energy, pollution, or conservation — broad-based charities that help the environment also dedicate resources to Advocacy, Education, and Research initiatives.
In a general sense, environmental advocacy involves a variety of efforts to raise awareness about the importance of defending Planet Earth. Certain advocates work tirelessly to influence policy, which can lead to better environmental protection laws. Other advocates band together in community organizations to curb wasteful practices and customs. Some advocates take personal responsibility and make sure important stakeholders hear their voice.
Despite a myriad of potential ways to advocate for the environment, traditional efforts include:
- Championing environmental protection laws and statutes;
- Interfacing with the media to spread awareness of environmental issues;
- Enlisting new members in environmental protection efforts;
- Spearheading events to assemble environmental activists; and
- Soliciting donations for environmental causes.
Environmental education enables human beings to appreciate the importance of natural ecosystems and species. These education initiatives also explain the relationship between human activities and the environment, especially negative aspects like global warming and deforestation. Commonly, environmental education teaches humans beings to:
- Comprehend environmental mechanisms and process;
- Recognize environmental issues and challenges;
- Value the importance of sustainable and renewable practices; and
- Identify solutions that can help protect the environment.
Scientific research into the impact of human behavior on Planet Earth is absolutely crucial to the success of environmental charities. This type of research observes, tracks, and quantifies how human activities are changing the natural environment. Then scientists apply proven methodologies to arrive at legitimate conclusions and findings.
Broad-based environmental organizations leverage their resources to fund many research efforts across the globe. From measuring pollution levels to testing water purity and linking greenhouse gases to global warming, environmental research provides scientific justification for various protection and conservation efforts.
Climate change occurs when fluctuations in Planet Earth’s natural environment result in long-term adjustment to weather patterns and ecosystems. Climate change can happen from natural events, such as a volcanic eruption. Or climate change can result from human activities — like increased greenhouse gas emissions — which is commonly referred to as global warming. Today, many climate change charities focus on limiting the negative outcomes associated with human activities that drive global warming. In this context, the terms climate change and global warming can be used interchangeably.
An example of a climate change charity is The Crowd, which is the operating name of a London-based organization with international reach. This global warming charity strives to empower individuals to drive positive climate change. The Crowd strips the complexity out of the evaluation process, presenting potential contributors with straightforward options to support some of the best climate change charities in existence.
Given the present impact of human activity on the natural environment, there are many different varieties of charities fighting climate change. In practice, a myriad of climate charities feature common areas of emphasis, including Reduction, Modification, and Intervention.
Climate change reduction refers to the practice of mitigating the impact of global warming. By adjusting certain human behaviors, particularly from an energy standpoint, climate change reduction can help reverse damage to Planet Earth’s natural mechanisms. For example, the initiatives below represent core tenets of reduction methodologies:
- Energy Conservation & Efficiency — Elevating energy conservation and efficiency can reduce waste and decelerate the progress of global warming;
- Low-Carbon Technologies — Advancing the use of low-carbon technologies, such as wind or solar power, can minimize human-produced greenhouse gases; and
- Carbon Sink Enhancement — Limiting deforestation and promoting reforestation can restore our planet’s ability to convert carbon dioxide and maintain environmental balance.
Climate change modification refers to the practice of adapting natural systems and human behavior to account for global warming. With the consequences of global warming becoming more severe with each passing day, climate change modification initiatives at multiple levels have gained prominence in recent years. Examples of climate change modification techniques include:
- Enhancing the Capacity to Adapt — Improving the adaptive qualities of human and natural species can help mitigate the effects of rising global temperatures;
- Improving Agricultural Techniques — Specific changes to agricultural techniques can decrease the emission of greenhouse gases and slow the impact of global warming; and
- Distributing Financial Impact — Applying insurance requirements or other financial obligations can deter certain activities that produce high levels of greenhouse gases.
Also referred to a bioengineering, climate change intervention involves efforts to purposefully change the natural systems on Planet Earth. One example of intervention is the removal of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. By reducing these elements in the atmosphere, it may be possible to slow the effects of climate change.
Another example of bioengineering involves management of solar radiation. By reflecting some of the sunlight and radiation Planet Earth naturally receives, it may slow the global warming effects that have sprung up in recent human history.
Clean energy is a general term for power sources that do not involve fossil fuels or high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Also referred to as renewable or sustainable power, clean energy allows the present generation to meet its needs without sacrificing the interests of future generations. Clean or green energy charities champion renewable energy technologies that enable human beings to power their societies without causing irreversible damage to Planet Earth.
An example of a clean energy charity is the Citizens Utility Board, which was created in 1983 by the Illinois General Assembly. This organization advocates for affordable and clean energy by combatting rate increases for energy utilities, advancing green energy initiatives, and serving consumer protection interests. Since its inception, the Citizens Utility Board has saved Illinois utility customers more than $20 billion.
Clean energy charities strive to replace wasteful fossil fuel technologies with more efficient options that carry less of an environmental impact. Although there are countless ways to accomplish this end, many of the best renewable energy charities advocate for widespread, sustainable use of Water, Solar, and Wind power.
Sometimes referred to as hydropower, the use of running water to generate power has long-standing roots in human history. In the Middle East and China, water power has been a part of human society for thousands of years. The advantage of hydropower over traditional fossil fuels relates to sustainability. Water power leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than power sources like coal or oil. Examples of water power include:
- Watermills — These devices use wheels or turbines to capture the force of water currents and convert it into mechanical and other sources of power;
- Trompes — These machines are essentially air compressors, leveraging water to generate pressure which is then converted into power; and
- Hydroelectric Plants — These plants can capture and store electric power from the movement of running water, whether vertically or horizontally.
Solar power is achieved by converting sunlight into energy. Coupled with other sustainable energy sources, solar power is a viable method to decrease reliance on fossil fuels. As compared to hydropower, harnessing the Sun’s natural energy is a relatively new concept. Throughout the years, human beings have employed solar power in a variety of different applications, including:
- Photovoltaic Cells — First developed in the 1880s, these solar cells convert light into electric power. Photovoltaic cells exist in many sizes, ranging from small calculators to large panels on rooftops.
- Concentrated Solar Power — Using lens and mirrors, this process concentrates sunlight to a single location, which generates heat. Then concentrated solar power devices convert heat into electricity for numerous uses.
- Hybrid Solar Power Systems — These hybrid systems combine the benefits of photovoltaic cells and concentrated solar power to convert sunlight into electricity.
Wind power uses currents in the air to create sustainable and renewable energy. Seen more and more frequently across the globe, wind turbines are the most common way of capturing wind-driven energy. When air currents force these turbines to spin, it generates mechanical power which is then transformed into electricity.
In order to increase the potential output of this energy source, it is common to arrange a multitude of turbines in a single area, thereby creating a wind farm. These farms exist on land and at sea, capturing and storing wind power as a renewable energy source.
Pollution issues is an umbrella term that refers to the substantial consequences of releasing contaminants into the environment and atmosphere. Pollution materializes in many different ways, affecting the air, water, soil, and other aspects of our planet. Scientific evidence indicates that pollution is a major proponent of global warming. To slow the effects of climate change, anti-pollution organizations advocate for the diminished release of pollutants into the environment and atmosphere.
An example of a pollution charity is the Alliance for the Great Lakes. With roots tracing back to the 1970s, this organization strives to maintain healthy and safe conditions in all of the Great Lakes, ensuring that present and future generations can enjoy these natural wonders. Through a combination of advocacy, education, and research initiatives, the Alliance for the Great Lakes protects important waterways from pollution, invasive species, and other threats.
In the fight against pollution issues, there are many ways nonprofit organizations can have a positive impact on the environment. Several common priorities for these charities include the reduction of Air, Ocean, and Plastic pollution.
A substantial increase in air pollution in recent times presents a serious problem for humans and natural species alike. To illustrate the impact on human beings, air pollution caused the deaths of approximately seven million people, according to 2012 estimates from theWorld Health Organization and International Energy Agency. Accordingly, air pollution charities advocate decreasing airborne pollutants to:
- Mitigate human diseases, allergies, and deaths;
- Alleviate extinction of animal, plant, and insect species;
- Improve natural habitats for various natural organisms;
- Curb the impact of global warming.
The release of contaminants into oceans and other waterways has a disastrous effect on important ecosystems as well as humans and marine species. Water and ocean pollution charities fight to limit the amount of waste, chemicals, and pollutants that enter this planet’s water sources. Examples of sustainable water practices include:
- Wastewater Treatment — Many urban, industrial, and agricultural operations produce contaminated wastewater. Ideally, wastewater should be treated to remove contaminants before reuse.
- Construction Sediment Control — Certain construction endeavors can discharge toxic chemicals and other sediment. To avoid a negative environmental impact, it is necessary to control the spread of sediment and prevent spills.
- Sewage Sanitation — Outside of developed urban areas, there can be a lack of dedicated treatment facilities for sewage and wastewater. In these situations, it is necessary to sanitize sewage and waste before reuse.
Due to its low production cost, plastic is a commonly used material for countless human applications. According to certain 2018 estimates, there are 380 million tons produced annually across the globe. The problem is that plastic takes a long time to decompose, making it extremely difficult to repurpose or recycle.
As a result, significant quantities of plastic are discarded each year into the soil and water. This type of plastic pollution interferes with natural habitats, ecosystems, and living species. Plastic pollution charities recognize the severity of this reality and fight to reduce human use of and dependence on plastic materials.
Conservation is the practice of preserving or sustainably expending the natural resources of Planet Earth. This is particularly important in modern times, as industrialization and other human activities have pushed many natural species to the brink of extinction. Conservation charities seek to curb irresponsible use of land, water, and other natural resources.
An example of a conservation charity is the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust. This nonprofit land trust is a community-based organization that protects natural resources in the Lower Kennebec and Sheepscot River estuaries. Another example of a conservation charity is the Lake Forest Open Lands Association. Featuring an 800-acre nature preserve, this organization is dedicated to conservation, environmental education, and community engagement.
Nonprofit organizations committed to preserving natural life and ecosystems often employ their resources in the pursuit of Land, Estuary, and Wildlife conservation efforts.
Land conservation is the practice of preserving and protecting land to maintain its natural condition. This process maintains the natural habitat for any plant, animal, and insect species native to the area. Land conservation is particularly vital in modern times, as human activities have damaged many natural ecosystems and driven out or extinguished native species.
Land conservation organizations ensure that natural habitats remain capable of supporting native species by fighting for:
- Reduction of pollution in the air and water;
- Preservation of natural landscapes;
- Management of watersheds and other waterways;
- Improvement of soil quality with minimal erosion; and
- Alleviation of greenhouse gas emissions.
The term estuary refers to a coastal body of water with one or multiple river streams and a direct connection to an ocean. Estuaries are extremely vital from a biodiversity standpoint, providing a transitional area for fresh and saltwater. The resulting mix provides healthy levels of nutrients for plants, animals, and other forms of natural life. From a human standpoint, many of the largest urban cities developed along or near estuaries.
Appreciating the significance of these transitional areas, estuary conservation has gained distinction in environmental protection circles. Traditionally, conservation efforts related to preserving estuaries and limiting human interference. Though in certain cases, preservation is not feasible, as there is also significant damage to the estuary. In these situations, restoring the estuary through rehabilitation can be a viable option. In the process, it is vital to consider the multifaceted needs of the natural species living within that estuary.
Wildlife conservation involves the protection of various natural species from the negative effects of human enterprises. In this sense wildlife is a broad term, encompassing all forms of natural life. If human behavior threatens the survival of a certain type of microorganism, plant, animal, or insect, wildlife conservation is necessary for continued existence. Presently, some of the major threats to wildlife include:
- Habitat destruction;
- Over exploitation; and
Are You Passionate About Protecting the Environment on Planet Earth?
If you are passionate about protecting the environment on Planet Earth, your time and resources can have a tremendous impact. By supporting environmental protection charities, you can help reverse the trends of climate change, promote the use of clean energy, decrease pollution, and conserve natural resources. Furthermore, there are a myriad of ways in which you can make a real difference. So if you care about protecting natural life on this planet, take a stand today and contribute to an environmental nonprofit organization.
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