Founded in 1988, EarthShare is a national non-profit organization that specializes in “connecting people and workplaces with effective ways to support critical environmental causes.” Most notable is its EarthShare@Work initiative, an employee engagement and philanthropy program in which hundreds of thousands of individuals, at hundreds of public- and private-sector workplaces across the United States, participate each year. Employees at these establishments can pledge a designated amount of each paycheck to be earmarked as a donation to the EarthShare Member Organization(s) of their choice, or they can make one-time donations to those groups whenever their finances allow. As of 2015, EarthShare’s workplace giving campaigns had raised more than $300 million for environmental groups and programs nationwide and around the world.
EarthShare currently has 16 state and regional affiliates in the United States. Among its many National Member Organizations are: Defenders of Wildlife, the Earth Day Network, Earthjustice, the Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, the Izaak Walton League of America, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, the Rainforest Alliance, the Sierra Club Foundation, Trust for Public Land, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Wilderness Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the World Wildlife Fund.
EarthShare also has a number of so-called “Public Sector Members” who participate only in the organization’s Combined Federal Campaign (which is limited to federal workers and members of the military) and its public-sector campaigns. These member groups include, among others, the Earth Island Institute, the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the World Resources Institute.
EarthShare currently focuses a majority of its efforts on raising funds for its Member Organizations that deal with six major issue priorities:
* Climate Change: EarthShare claims that “industrial activities, deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels” have released “high concentrations of heat-trapping agents called greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere”; that these gases “are warming the Earth’s surface to temperatures that threaten life on our planet”; that “carbon dioxide and methane are two GHGs that have increased dramatically due to human activity”; and that “overwhelming scientific consensus and real-life impacts tell us that global warming is real, is caused by human activity, and is a significant threat to our health, economy and environment.” Specifically, Earthshare contends that global warming is responsible for such phenomena as “rising sea levels (from melting glaciers and ice shelves),” “melting permafrost,” “changes in the distribution of plants and animals,” “the lengthening of seasons,” and “the catastrophic storms, droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes we’ve experienced in the last few years.” Moreover, the organization says that climate change “is expected to increase the risk of some infectious diseases—particularly those diseases occurring in warm areas—including malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and encephalitis.”
* Environment and Human Health: According to EarthShare, “pesticides used in food production and antibiotics in livestock contaminate … go directly into the food we eat” and “can lead to cancer and antibiotic resistance” in the people who consume them; fracking for natural gas can contaminate groundwater” and “has led to health problems in communities where those resources are being extracted”; and motor vehicle and industrial emissions contribute to a host of “illnesses caused by air pollution.”
* Environmental Education: On the premise that “a healthy environment needs well-trained leaders capable of executing creative solutions to future challenges,” EarthShare calls for the development of “an environmentally-minded workforce to accelerate the transition to a green and just economy.”
* Land Conservation, Parks, and Planning: EarthShare laments that “some of the most important ecosystems in the world are in danger” because: (a) “globally, deforestation results in the elimination of an area of forest the size of England each year,” and (b) “American agricultural land is rapidly disappearing to development—at the rate of one acre per minute.”
* Water Issues: EarthShare warns that “runoff from industrial processes like electricity generation and manufacturing … adds pollutants to rivers, lakes, and oceans.” Moreover, says the organization, “oceans are facing unprecedented stress” due to “climate change, acidification, [and] overfishing.” Similarly, “wetlands are threatened by pollution, development, and flooding.”
* Wildlife Protection: By EarthShare’s telling, “habitat loss, climate change, poaching, and pollution” contribute heavily to the mass extinction of thousands of animal species each year. “There are five known mass extinctions in the earth’s long history,” sys EarthShare, “and many scientists say that humans are creating the sixth mass extinction today.”
The common thread that runs through all of the aforementioned issue priorities is the premise that human activity—particularly in industrialized societies—represents the gravest threat to the environment’s well-being. In each case, EarthShare states that the best ways for the average person to make a difference include “making an online donation to EarthShare” and “introducing the EarthShare employee program to your workplace.” Via such measures, says the organization, donors “can make the world a better place for future generations.”
For additional information on EarthShare, click here.