On 22 April 1970, millions in the US hit the streets to raise their voice against the negative effects of industrial development and mark the first Earth Day. Two decades later, it became a global event, and today, the Earth Day Network has more than 75,000 partners in more than 190 countries.
The theme for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day is climate action, and it could not be more timely. Right now, as the world struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic and to balance economic concerns with health concerns in lockdown, it is also seeing the incidental positives of a lockdown.
So, on one hand is the gravely worrying oil price crash due to low demand in lockdown, while on the other is the steep drop in pollution levels because there is no industrial work, no air traffic or road traffic.
The pandemic has forced the world to stand at a crossroads where we need to examine orole in allowing this crisis and reconfigure our lives in such a way that while the wheels of the economy keep moving, we don’t lose sight of the basics. And Earth Day is the perfect time to do that.
50th anniversary is going digital
Earth Day is widely recognised as the largest secular observance worldwide, with more than a billion people globally taking part in marches and parades, working to bring policy changes to benefit the environment, carry clean-up drives, organise seminars etc.
But this year, due to the coronavirus crisis, the lockdowns in many countries and social distancing rules across the world, none of these demonstrations will take place.
The 50th anniversary of the environment event will be the first ever digital Earth Day, where participants are encouraged to pay homage to the planet by following the action online and taking part in global conversations, social media campaigns, video teach-ins, amplifying calls to action, watching concerts and more.
On Wednesday, we're going LIVE —
Tune into Earth Day Live on April 22 as we flood the world with messages of hope, optimism, and above all, ACTION.
— Earth Day Network (@EarthDayNetwork) April 20, 2020
How to mark Earth Day in quarantine?
Given that the traditional marches and rallies won’t be possible, many are wondering what they can do to mark Earth Day, apart from watching the online events.
The simple answer is: Change. And it’s been happening for a while.
People may not be able to be outside, but conversations around climate action and environmentally-friendly lifestyles have become increasingly part of our consciousness. Many have delighted in how lockdown has impacted air quality, while others have long since given up single-use plastic and even meat.
And there is, perhaps, no better time to do this than during a period of self-quarantine, when the word ‘essential’ is being redefined.