Riderwood Earth Day event to highlight threats to wildlife

By Ed Vilade

Member, Earth Day Planning Committee

The plight of global flora and fauna will be an emphasis of Riderwood’s 19th annual Earth Day Celebration on Wednesday, April 24, from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. in Montgomery Station’s Maryland Hall. Posters and information at the festival will tie in to this year’s National and International Earth Day theme, “Protect Our Species”.

Even though St. Patrick’s Day is over, the Earth Day Committee urges attendees to “Get Your Green On” in the environmental sense. Wear your environmentally themed clothing — hats, socks, tee shirts and other items.

In addition to a full slate of activities on April 24, a series of preview events will kick off the festivities. On Thursday, April 11, Doug Meyers from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will deliver an update on “The State of the Bay: How Healthy Is the Chesapeake Bay,” at 7:15 p.m. at the Lakeside Commons Encore Theater. The presentation is sponsored by the Riderwood Sustainability Committee.

The annual Campus Litter Clean-Up Hike will take place on Friday, April 19. Hikers will meet representatives of the Riderwood Grounds Department at 9:00 a.m. at the Town Center entrance.

First on the bill at 1:30 p.m. on April 24 in the Maryland Hall will be the Watkins Nature Center with a live animal show. Following at 2:00 p.m. will be Riderwood’s Ukulele Band, the Acousti-Cats. Director Becky Hedin will lead a program of tunes on environmental topics. Executive Director Gary Hibbs will be a special guest singer, along with Riderwood resident Ed Vilade.

At 2:30 p.m., Bates Composting will demonstrate and explain what happens to Riderwood’s food and ground waste. Also, between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m., a series of short environmental films will be shown in the Chesapeake Room.

Other activities include the popular recycled jewelry sale. Jewelry collection is ongoing, so check bulletin boards for donation locations. The sale will benefit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s education programs. Also, there will be drop-off locations to recycle electronics (anything with a cord) and personal mobility devices (Wheels for the World collection), along with sales of garden plants and other items by exhibitors.

The following day, Thursday, April 25, at 10:30 a.m., a discussion of the book “The Water Will Come” will take place in the Town Center classroom. Bruce Marshall, Riderwood Unitarian Universalist chaplain, will lead the discussion. The book “paints an eye-opening portrait of humankind’s dilemma as temperatures and sea levels continue to rise,” says former US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Earth Day Film Series

Chesapeake Room, Wednesday, April 24

1:15 p.m. Pollinators Under Pressure – The film features expert voices and diverse points of view from representatives of federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and youth who are working in communities to help residents understand the impact of everyday actions on pollinators and their habitats.

50 Years of Farming – Organic farmers in Tysons Corner, Va. reflect on a half-century of sustainable and community-focused agriculture.

1:45 p.m. Capital Buzz – Out of sight of local authorities and neighbors, amateur beekeepers are setting out to propagate bees all across DC.

Last Dragons—Protecting Appalachia’s Hellbenders – An intimate glimpse at North America’s Eastern Hellbender, an ancient salamander that lives as much as myth as reality.

2:15 p.m. Anacostia River – For decades, heavy industrial pollution has infiltrated the waters of the Anacostia River, which cuts right through the heart of Washington, D.C. A broad coalition of city and federal officials, nonprofits and corporations are working hard to reverse those effects.

Add One Back – The story about adding aquaculture oysters to a previously vegetarian diet.

2:45 p.m. Potomac: The River Runs Through Us – The film follows the flow of the Potomac water from its origin, into our homes and businesses and back into the river.

Ten facts about global species decline

1. We are amidst the largest period of species extinction in the last 60 million years. Normally, between one and five species will go extinct annually. However, scientists estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate, with multiple extinctions daily. Multiple species will disappear before we learn about them or the benefits they bring to our planet.

2. A new study has suggested that insect populations have decreased by more than 75% in Germany over the last 28 years. This is very alarming: 80% of wild plants rely on bees and other insects for pollination, and 60% of bird species rely on insects for food.

3. Habitat destruction, exploitation, and climate change are driving the loss of half of the world’s wild animal population.

4. Primates, our closest animal relatives, are under extraordinary threat. Close to 60% of the world’s 504 primate species are threatened with extinction, and 75% of our primate species are in severe population decline.

5. Worldwide, more than 650,000 marine mammals are caught or seriously injured by fishing gear annually.

6. In the past 20 years, around 75% of all toothed whale species, such as dolphins, porpoises, and 65% of baleen whale species (humpback, blue), and 65% of pinniped species (sea lions) have been affected through bycatch in fishing operations globally.

7. 40% of the world’s bird species are in decline, and 1 in 8 is threatened with global extinction.

8. Our big cats, including tigers, leopards, and cheetahs are in critical decline, and many will become extinct in the next decade. The world’s cats are exploited for their body parts and skins. China remains the world’s largest market for these critically endangered species along with the black rhino and other species.

9. Lizard populations are especially vulnerable to climate change. A recent study projects that if the current decline in lizard populations continues, 40% of all lizard species will be extinct by 2080.

10. The American Bison once numbered in the millions and roamed from Alaska to Mexico. They now occupy less than one percent of their original habitat. Their existing habitat is so small and tightly controlled that surviving bison have been compared to herded cattle.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2702436/
[2] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185809

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