This is an Earth Day like no other that has gone before. It is a terrifying time in which people are sick and dying while others are suffering from isolation due to social distancing. Although it may be hard to fathom from where we are today this virus may augur the change we so desperately need.
In 2020 we are celebrating the 50th Earth Day and the theme this year is climate action. This event, which is celebrated in more than 193 countries, has succeeded in raising awareness and increasing calls for both political action and civic participation.
The inaugural event in 1970 was chaired by Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) and Representative Pete McCloskey (R-CA). On that day 20 million Americans participated in protests, festivals, and rallies. Their actions led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shortly thereafter Congress passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Since then the arc of America’s environmental progress has been slow but steady culminating in the signing of the Paris Climage Agreement on Earth Day 2016.
Then darkness descended and newly elected president Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement. He then launched an anti-science crusade and unleashed a barrage of deregulation that has systematically rolled back protections for clean air and water. He also gutted the ESA and the EPA. This president has declared war on nature and this not only threatens the health and well being of Americans, it threatens all life on Earth.
The United States is not alone, authoritarian governments around the world continue to poison our air, land and seas. This includes governments in Brazil, Russia and Australia. Their genocide against nature is a global concern. Their wanton disregard for nature is responsible for unprecedented anthropogenic extinction rates and and their unholy attachment to dirty energy is exacerbating climate change. They
are destroying the Earth’s biodiversity and killing the web of life
upon which we all depend.
COVID-19 may help to expose the unconscionable incompetence of this new wave of authoritarian populism. This modern day plague forces thinking people to acknowledge the critical importance of science and the dangerous consequences of politics that rely on lies. Although we still have far to go, this crisis may prove to be the catalyst that helps end the fossil fuel industry’s hold on power.
We have come so far since 1970, but this progress is at risk. This year’s Earth Day has a gravitas unlike any that has gone before. This is a make or break year that will determine whether or not we have a future.
Earth Day Everyday: Sierra’s Efforts and Reasons for Hope
Earth Day 2017: We Have Met the Enemy and it is the U.S.
President Obama’s Earth Day Address: Action on Climate Change Cannot Wait (Video)
Responding to Grist’s Anti-Earth Day Rants
The Importance of Science and Nature on Earth Day
Silencing Earth Day Critics