‘Tis the Season for Gratitude (and Gifts!)

by Natalie Bencivenga


November 12, 2022

Reflecting on the wild ride that has been 2022, it is important to remember how much good there is in the world and how so many people are striving to save and protect our environment so that it flourishes for generations to come. In the spirit of gratitude, here are five things that happened in 2022 that are positive strides we made in the race against the climate crisis:

The Ocean Clean-Up: The Ocean Cleanup is developing clean-up systems that can clean up the floating plastics caught swirling in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. System 002, its latest system iteration, reached proof of technology on October 20th, 2021, meaning now the clean-up can begin! 

More plant-based food choices at 250 colleges coming soon: According to VegNews: Aramark is committing to increasing its plant-based menu offerings at the schools it services in a major way. By 2025, nearly half (44 percent) of menus offered by the food-service giant will be plant-based. In doing so, the company aims to support its goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030. 

Inflation Reduction Act: A happy side-effect to this Democrat-sponsored Inflation Reduction Act bill happens to be a huge victory for climate change. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 includes $369 billion in funding to tackle climate change and brings America closer to Biden's goal of cutting climate pollution in half from 2005 levels by 2030. 

Solar power is on the way: President Biden has been busy and recently signed into legislation that – according to Pew Reseach: “ includes larger investments in renewable energy and measures to address climate change. Among its provisions is a 30% solar tax credit that could spur more Americans to “go solar” over the next decade.” Read more HERE

Sea Shepherd to the rescue: On Oct. 7, Mexico’s Secret Secretary of the Navy, in partnership with the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, released a statement announcing a new program aimed at deterring illegal fishing within the Zero Tolerance Area of the Vaquita Refuge. The vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. Its population has declined in recent years due to entanglement in illegal gillnets. Experts believe that fewer than 20 vaquitas now remain. Vaquitas are endemic to a small region in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California, residing in an area known as the Vaquita Refuge. Sea Shepherd was instrumental in this accomplishment and to read more, click HERE

Now that we’ve shared some gratitude around great accomplishments, let’s look to the new year for gifts we can give ourselves and the planet moving forward: 

Gift #1: Let’s Protect the Clean Water Act: The western part of the United States is experiencing the worst drought in almost 1,200 years, due in large part to the climate crisis. It’s so dire that the Colorado River could start to dry up in certain parts. We must protect our water. It is the lifeblood of the people and of the planet. According to USA Today, that’s been the job of the Clean Water Act, one of the most successful federal laws in history since 1972. This Act is going up to the Supreme Court, whose conservative lean has scientists, conservationists, farmers and many others concerned. 

USA Today reports that: “The Sacketts are represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative nonprofit law firm that works to roll back the commonsense safeguards we all depend on to protect the environment and public health. Lining up on their side is a rogue’s gallery of industry groups equally devoted to putting polluter profits ahead of clean water: the American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas lobbying group; the Koch Industries-backed Americans for Prosperity; the National Mining Association; and, naturally, the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. 

These and a group of conservative members of Congress are using the Sackett case to argue before the court that property developers and polluting industries should be free to destroy wetlands, which protect communities from flooding and filter pollutants from runoff, and streams that feed the sources of clean drinking water for 1 in every 3 Americans.” 

Let’s use our voices on Nov. 8 to send a clear message to Washington and every part of this country that water is a human right and not for sale to the highest bidder. LEt’s give ourselves the gift of clean water for ourselves, our children and all living creatures. 

Gift #2: Due to political turmoil in Brazil, the “lungs of the world” – better known as the Amazon rainforest – are under extreme attack. Conservative propaganda coming from social media channels in the United States have helped flame the fires in Brazil’s political landscape to lean towards a big-business candidate who wants to demolish more of the forest for profit. Environmentalists and those impacted by deforestation are hoping he won’t win, but according to The New Republic: “All signs point to the October 30 runoff being a crucial hurdle for Brazilian democracy—and indeed for global climate hopes. The task for Brazil’s leftist alliance won’t be easy. But even should Lula prevail, there’s a long road ahead to undo the damage wrought by four years of fascist environmental destruction.”Staying informed as Americans putting pressure on our own representatives to do support leadership that favors the environment will be an important gift we can give the planet and ourselves moving forward. 

Gift #3: Global food security may look bleak right now, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates that 193 million people in 53 countries were food insecure and needing urgent assistance in 2021. Millions more across the world face soaring prices for basic foodstuffs, driven by Covid-19-related supply chain disruptions, extreme weather events, and conflicts like the war in Ukraine, according to Human Rights Watch. And while these issues may seem overwhelming, there are things we can do right in our own backyards, including becoming Food Rescue Heroes and supporting our local food banks. 

Together, let’s build a world that is healthy, equitable and welcoming for all – one gift at a time.


Natalie Bencivenga is a regular columnist with The Green Voice Weekly Newsletter