Today’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and I’m thinking a lot about what this moment means, in the light of these twin crises we find ourselves in today: COVID-19 and the climate crisis. One may feel much more pressing, much more a problem of right-now. But the other—the continuing increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, the ongoing onslaught to livelihoods and environments around the world, the disregard for action that we need NOW—is just as critical, and even more so. I’ve always found the story of the first Earth Day so inspiring—the millions of people in the streets, the demonstrations across all sectors of society, the use of classrooms to educate the community. And the bipartisan action that Earth Day helped support—with the creation of the EPA, the passage of the legislation for clean air, clean water, endangered species, occupational health, and more—boggles the mind, in today’s moment of such partisan divide. But it also reminds me what is possible.
Although the actions for today’s anniversary can’t take place in the communal swell of activism in the streets, there’s still so much we can do, from our homes, as individuals connected by a common cause. And there’s a way that our communal response to COVID has heartened me, given me hope about the fight for our lives in the climate emergency, even though I often lean toward pessimism in this case. There are so many common threads. We have begun recognizing that our actions directly affect others, even if in unseen ways. We have sacrificed so much of what we consider our normal daily livelihoods in order to protect the health of (some of) the vulnerable among us. We have seen that society can upend itself almost overnight when needed. We have done all this even without the federal leadership that is most desperately needed.
I’ve said to others in all this that there’s a way in which my climate anxiety has been slightly assuaged by COVID self-quarantine because finally, finally my internal anxieties that constantly shout “How can we all keep acting like things are normal when things are not normal!?” line up with our external behavior, which is now reflecting, if for other reasons, that we must change our ways. We can stop flying, drive less, consume less, demand that our leadership pass legislation to remake our economy, stop supporting the fossil fuel industries, band together to support our communities, and transform our daily practices in all kinds of ways to accommodate low-carbon lifestyles. I am maintaining hope, and remembering those who came before. We must continue the fight.
Other ways we can take action today:
Learn and Donate at www.earthday.org
Donate and Volunteer to the Sunrise Movement: www.sunrisemovement.org
Learn about the history of Earth Day: www.nelsonearthday.net
Support environmental justice groups like Indigenous Environmental Network www.ienearth.org and Climate Justice Alliance www.climatejusticealliance.org
And food justice: https://foodtank.com/news/2020/02/24-organizations-finding-food-justice/