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KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Environmentalist David Fenton: Stop Calling It 'Earth Day'

Flickr Photo/Ingrid Taylar (CC BY-NC)
According to a campaign David Fenton worked on, Jesus would have driven a hybrid car.

David Fenton has a piece of advice on celebrating Earth Day this Tuesday: If you really want to help, stop calling it Earth Day.

He said the day is not about the earth. “The planet is going to be fine. It just will eject us, and unfortunately a lot of other species,” Fenton said. “The planet will recover. We just won’t be here. That’s what we need to explain to people.”

Fenton runs a public relations firm that works with big environmental groups like Greenpeace, Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund. He calls himself an environmentalist.

“But I don’t think we should use that term publicly,” Fenton said. “Unfortunately, the term ‘environmentalist’ has come to mean to many people in the American public ‘somebody that doesn't care about them.’ Those are the people who care about the critters and the polar bears, but they're not concerned with the daily struggles of my life and my family.”

Polar bears may be adorable, but they don’t always resonate with people. “I care about them very much, but if we’re going to solve these issues in our country we have to explain to people how it affects them,” Fenton said.

Fenton said environmentalists need to talk about “how our way of life, our freedom, our prosperity will be sent into a huge downward spiral if we don’t start limiting these emissions, put a price on carbon and make the polluters pay their true cost to society.”

As an example, Fenton said he worked on the “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign about a decade ago. It was an effort by evangelical Christians to tell people that their driving choices had a moral dimension. In case you missed it, they determined Jesus would have driven a hybrid.

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