By Shannon Mora
On April 22nd, 1970, twenty-million Americans stood for one united cause. These impactful individuals brought a voice to a crisis that had, until then, been largely ignored. The state of our planet was beginning to take up space in the forefront of public consciousness as the realities of unregulated big business were being exposed. While success seemed to ring through America with more cars on the road and our favorite products pumping out of factories, there had been little to no concern or realization of the impacts our habits were having on the Earth. Thus, Earth Day was implemented to establish a public stance to protect our resources and demand greater regulation from our government. April 22nd, 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of this initiative, and while we can not attend our favorite Earth Day events due to the global pandemic of COVID-19, we can remember what this day signifies.
The first Earth Day was an alignment of Americans despite political positions, social class, or racial identity. Among this union were individuals who had previously protested pollution from factories and toxic dumps, the extensive use of pesticides in farming, and the degradation of wildlife habitats. All shared the common value that it was time the Earth gained a voice and received the same prioritization as other national concerns. This protest resulted in the first United States government agency dedicated to conservation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). From this “green” step forward came the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, all legislation that set a nationwide precedent that the environment was a national priority.
In 1990 the Earth Day campaign expanded to a global scale, including 141 country participants and 200 million individuals. Today, more than a billion people observe Earth Day as a pinnacle of change and growth. This annual holiday is a celebration of how far we have come and a time to share innovation, ideas and make improved commitments to get us where we need to be. This year the focus of Earth Day is on climate action. As the current United States government continues to lag on committing to serious emission reductions policies, our citizens have taken it upon themselves to rise to the challenge. Individuals and businesses have increasingly participated in voluntary initiatives to combat the effects of climate change. From CEO’s analyzing their supply chain and understanding their carbon footprint to consumers using their purchasing power to support conscious businesses. Both groups can continue to support taking easy and effective climate action through supporting emission-reducing projects. Find out more here.
Now, more than ever, the world is called to share in common struggles and find solutions. As COVID-19 keeps us indoors and offers our planet a rest from cars and trucks on the road, let us reflect on the cleansing and second chance we are being offered. In the midst of all the mourning that is sure to take place during this time, we must remember that there will be an end to this crisis. When we emerge from our homes and rise from our struggles, will we remain unchanged? Or will we maintain the aligned values Earth Day inspires?