Earth Day 2020 – 50 Years
Photo Credit: Earth Day Official Website
April 22, 2020 is Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. The theme this year is Climate Action with the aim of mobilizing all citizens of Earth “to call for greater global ambition to tackle our climate crisis. Unless every country in the world steps up with urgency and ambition, we are consigning current and future generations to a dangerous future.”
Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1970, twenty million Americans took to the streets, college campuses, and hundreds of cities to protest environmental degradation and demand a new way forward for our planet. With the launch of the environmental movement that year came two important developments: passing of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Act; and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Those were different times. Americans and the U.S. Congress believed the warnings of scientists. All the progress made since then to protect human health, other species, and the planet are now at risk under the current administration. What’s more, this important milestone for the environmental movement comes at an unprecedented time. Earth is facing a global pandemic of a new coronavirus, COVID-19. Across America and worldwide, populations are under lockdown to slow the spread of this deadly disease.
Under these conditions, Earth Day Network (EDN), the global organizer of Earth Day, will mark their 50th anniversary with the first Digital Earth Day. In their press release on March 17th, EDN President Kathleen Rogers encouraged volunteers and participants to rise up in a safe and responsible manner by using our voices to drive action online rather than in person.
“Our current pandemic demonstrates that governments must embrace science early. As we see now, many governments were slow to respond or even indifferent about the science of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Kathleen Rogers. “But the last few weeks have also demonstrated that our society, even at the international level, is capable of mass shifts across all sectors to meet a crisis head-on. We must apply the same scale and urgency of our response to climate change.”
In their press release on April 15th, the Earth Day Network announced the collection of voices coming together, through personal video messages, on their 15-hour (9:00 a.m. ET to 11:00 p.m. ET) Earth Day Live digital event. Among the speakers are Zac Efron, Patricia Espinosa, Al Gore, Denis Hayes, Alex Honnold, Van Jones, Anil Kapoor, John Kerry, Prince Albert of Monaco, and Kyra Sedgwick, with a Special Earth Day Address from His Holiness Pope Francis.
“This unprecedented time has stopped us all in our tracks,” said Kathleen Rogers. “As each of us ensures that those around us are safe and well, it is in a momentous opportunity to examine our individual and collective relationship with the natural world and how our activities impact the planet. The way forward is hopeful, and we have an opportunity to forever change how we interact with the environment in our own backyard and our community at large.”
Join me in participating in Earth Day Live digital event through the homepage of the Earth Day Network at earthday.org or on Twitter #EarthDay2020. You can also take part in a Digital Earth Day Event planned in your city and country.