When the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic is over and it will be over another existential threat will continue to bedevil humanity: climate change. Today, half a century since 20 million people in the United States marched in the streets and school campuses to call for measures to protect the environment, Earth Day will be observed with significant gains that provide cause for global celebration.
That first Earth Day event on April 22, 1970 led to legislation in most countries that aimed to promote clean air, water and soil, as well as improve protection of endangered wildlife and dwindling natural resources. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency sprung from that mass action to save the planet. On Earth Day 2016, 195 countries and territories signed the Paris Agreement on climate change, committing to implement actions that will reduce their carbon footprint.
This year’s Earth Day is being observed in the shadow of a crippling pandemic, with an estimated three billion people around the globe under some form of quarantine. Technology, however, allows global voices to be heard. People can join livestreamed discussions and use digital media to express their support for climate action, the theme of this year’s Earth Day.
As organizers of today’s Earth Day stressed: “While the coronavirus may force us to keep our distance, it will not force us to keep our voices down. The only thing that will change the world is a bold and unified demand for a new way forward.”