Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to show support for the environment. Although COVID-19 has caused social distancing, there are still many ways to celebrate this day and help the cause for a healthier planet.
History of Earth Day
During the 1960s, America began to show awareness of the harmful effects of pollution on the planet. Before that time, protecting the environment was not a large part of the political agenda and there were a minimal amount of activists. Furthermore, industries continued to increase carbon emissions with little legal consequences. Barely any citizens were familiar with the concepts of reusing or recycling. However, this attitude began to change when Senator Gaylord Nelson pitched the idea of Earth Day in the fall of 1969. Nelson convinced other federal leaders that the planet was at risk and raised awareness for the environment.
The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970, in which climate rallies and protests were held in major American cities such as Los Angeles and Philadelphia. It was extremely beneficial in raising recognition for the poor state of the environment and transforming public attitudes. Following the first Earth Day, many federal laws were passed during the 70s: the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency was established, holding the responsibilities of protecting human health along with natural landmarks and resources.
Earth Day 2020
The theme of this year’s Earth Day is climate action. Climate change poses a large threat to the health of both humanity and the environment. It is one of the largest challenges to the future of this world and ecosystems that make this planet habitable.
Since the pressing pandemic of COVID-19 has caused social distancing, Earth Day has gone digital. Visit Earth Day’s official website and learn more about how to continue support with “hope, optimism, and action”. They offer a large variety of digital events that guest many activists and voices. In addition, they have a 24-hour live webstream including “global conversations, calls to action, performances, video teach-ins, and more”. If you’re not available to tune in today, there is another 24-hour international live stream this Friday, April 24, sponsored by Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future. This virtual event provides an online strike to celebrate Earth Week by highlighting the voices of “activists, musicians, and more from around the world”. The live stream will air on the Fridays for Future Youtube channel.
Although this Earth Day may be different from past years, there are still many ways to participate in the celebration of our planet and the future of humanity. While we may be separate, through the power of support and action, we are more connected than ever.