Earth Day 2020

Fight today for a better tomorrow – celebrating 50 years of Earth Day

On 22 April 1970, 20 million Americans (10% of the population) woke up, took to the streets and joined together in protest.

They were protesting a world in crisis, a world described on the Earth Day website filled with, ‘oil spills, smog, rivers so polluted they literally caught fire’.

New York City’s Fifth Avenue is filled with thousands of people when the street was closed to motor traffic for the First Earth Day on April 22, 1970
Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS | Photo Credit: Tommy Japan
22 Apr 1970, New York, New York, USA — 4/22/1970-New York, NY- Fifth Avenue, reminiscent of some European promenade, is filled with thousands of people just after the fashionable street was closed to motor traffic at noon on Earth Day. Conceived as a national teach-in, patterned after the Vietnam teach-ins held on hundreds of campuses in the Spring of 1965, Earth Day is a nation-wide demonstration of concern for the planet and all forms of life–not only man–who live on it. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

That day launched the modern environmental movement in the United States and resulted in key milestones over the following years, like the passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

As the world wakes up on 22 April 2020 – 50 years later – there is much to be proud of, but also so much left to do.

  • Global temperatures continue to rise as do sea levels with the melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice.
  • Wildfires ravage countries around the world while others are dealing with devastating floods.
  • The species that are going extinct each year threaten the delicate balance of biodiversity we all rely on.
  • And a global pandemic – most likely originating at the edges where human society and the natural world scrape against each other – has killed over 170,000 worldwide to date and changed the day-to-day routines of everyone.

But there is hope.

As Christiana Figures and Tom Rivett-Carnac write in The Future We Choose:

‘By addressing the causes of climate change now, we can at once minimise risks and emerge stronger. Today we have the unique chance to create a future where things not only stabilise but actually get better…

Without diminishing the enormity of what we are facing with climate change, we are capable of changing course, and no objective evidence says otherwise…

We have already achieved a host of social and political successes; we have most, if not all, of the technologies we will need; we have the necessary capital, and we know which policies are most effective. We can do this.’

The Future We Choose
Greg Rakozy, Unsplash

And that’s why Earth Day 2020 is so important. In these next ten years running up to 2030, we need exponential leaps forward, not incremental steps. And we need people around the world to rise up and hold our governments to account. To ensure they do what’s necessary to take action for the climate.

In light of the lockdown, the Earth Day organisers are moving their celebration online.

‘While the coronavirus may force us to keep our distance, it will not face us to keep our voices down. The only thing that will change the world is a bold and unified demand for a new way forward.’

Earth Day 2020

Earth Day is organising 24 hours of action (starting at 12:01am ET and running through 11:59pm ET) with online conversations, performances, video teach-ins and other digital activities. They are also hosting Earth Day Live – a three-day mobilisation to stop the climate emergency with livestream stories, performances and opportunities for collective action online.

‘Earth Day 2020 will be far more than a day. It must be a historic moment when citizens of the world rise up in a united call for the creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.’

Earth Day 2020

To get involved in the Earth Day 2020 celebrations, check out their website and follow them on social.

‘No matter where you are, you can make a difference’

Earth Day 2020
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