Happy Earth Day 2020!
Today is a day to celebrate our human spirit and capacity to imagine a brighter, better future, and our ability to apply collective ingenuity, energy and determination to pursue what’s required to “make it so.”
It is also a special day and testament to what we humans are capable of accomplishing, “for people and planet”. Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day – an event that has grown from the actions of a few to raise environmental consciousness about pollution in 1970, to become a global phenomenon where, in the words of its event organizers, “Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes.”
We find cause for optimism as we reflect on how much has been accomplished over the decades since April 22, 1970. It is inspiring for us to learn about how the spontaneous actions of a small handful of citizens in one country sparked a movement worldwide toward a common vision for a brighter, safer and sustainable human habitat.
Earth Day History
“In 1970, as a 25-year-old graduate student, Denis Hayes organized the first Earth Day. The resounding success of that event, which brought out 20 million Americans — 10 percent of the United States population at the time — helped spark the modern environmental movement.”
“The decade that followed saw some of America’s most popular and powerful environmental legislation: updates to the Clean Air Act and the creation of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Legacies for Building Forward Upon
To learn more about the legacies of Earth Day 1970 for global transformational change, read this interview with Earth Day founder Denis Hayes https://bit.ly/2VNfla3
In his view, Earth Day 1970’s legacy resulted in “a fundamental restructuring of the American economy. The legislation of the 1970s was possibly the biggest change in how American industry operates in the nation’s history. Folks who had no concern whatsoever for pollution, for toxics disposal, for resource extraction, suddenly had to operate within ways that were benefiting public health and benefiting the environment.”
While the context is very different from 1970, we find his words resonate and take on an even deeper meaning today as we witness the kinds of transformational changes citizens are learning to make (rather abruptly admittedly), as we all shelter in place during the global pandemic, for the benefit of public health, to keep safe and to save lives.
You can learn more about how in 1990, “Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.”
And how, thirty years on, “Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders a loud and clear message: Citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.” Today’s Earth Day Network is “…. creating opportunities for civic engagement and volunteerism in 193 countries.” https://bit.ly/2wXpYyP
In 2015, the Paris Accord for international action on climate change was signed by signatory countries on Earth Day, April 22, 2015.
We Are The Change We Need
Today, as proud Canadians, we salute and thank our Readers and fellow citizens for doing the right thing, hard as it may be, to shelter in place, stay strong and safe, and save lives. Each one of us is truly making a real difference for the health and well being of others.
We could not be more proud to learn that this week’s COVID-19 data is showing that the collective actions by Canadians means that our country is on a path toward the ‘best case scenario” and the lowest projected number of confirmed virus cases, literally saving thousands and thousands of lives. We are all part of this amazing history-making accomplishment. In our books, this is real cause for (mini) celebration, and strong motivation to keep strong and stay the course. Our sincere thanks to all, with a special shout out and deep gratitude to our heroic health care and emergency services workers.
This evidence, together with the legacy built by and since Earth Day 1970, gives us both all the more cause for optimism on Earth Day 2020. It attests to what is possible to accomplish with our proven individual and collective capacity to make the kinds of transformational changes needed ahead to slow global warming and climate change, for the benefit of all species.
Here’s what Brady and Elizabeth hope you will notice in their above mural:
1. there is no air pollution or smoke (no factories) or water pollution
2. there are lots of birds which indicates clean air and lots of food to eat
3. there are lots of sea creatures since there is no garbage in the water
4. we have a water cycle, clean river
5. there are lots of trees to create oxygen and remove carbon dioxide
6. we added lots of bees and butterflies to pollinate fruit trees and flowers
7. there are lots of earthworms creating soil
8. the river leads to a marsh-a habitat for frogs, plants and insects
9. the marsh plants prevent erosion
10. farms to grow crops for human consumption, with mice and squirrels
11. the coral in the ocean shows it’s a healthy ocean , home for much sealife
The Theme for Earth Day 2020-Climate Action
This thought from the organizers of Earth Day 2020 really resonates with us in expressing how each and every one of us makes a difference —
“That’s where you come in: As an individual, you yield real power and influence as a consumer, a voter, and a member of a community that can unite for change.”
Plant a Tree-For Free
OneTreePlanted invites people to create a short 10-second video clip on the topic of “My Vision for a Better World….” They will plant a tree for each submission. https://bit.ly/2VoxnR8
A Moment of Gratitude
We invite ourselves and our Readers to take a moment today to reflect on what brings meaning and joy in our lives, what we are grateful for, and our aspirations and personal visions for a better world (whether or not we make a video clip for OneTreePlanted).
Some Other Earth Day Climate Actions
If Readers feel inclined and inspired to do more, we offer these action ideas as possibilities for consideration:
Watch the free film, Anthropocene showing tonight, April 22nd, on TVOntario at 9 pm EST. “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch. A stunning cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive reengineering of the planet, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is the final film in an award-winning trilogy that includes Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark.” https://www.tvo.org/schedule
Germinate Seedlings for Your Spring Garden
Research and Get Ready to Plant Your Favourite Tree (see ideas and resources in April 16th’s blog, for example)
Create and Display Your Own Earth Day Art in the Front Window
Read the Official Earth Day Organizers’ Challenge https://bit.ly/2RLjoSZ
Learn more about and watch this short video clip on the History of Earth Day https://www.earthday.org/history/
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint https://bit.ly/2VehSLk
Donate a Tree – For example, we have made donations with OneTreePlanted and Tree Canada
Read Tree Canada’s Blog – Keeping the trees close in a time of social distancing https://bit.ly/3cvvgk
Get Inspired by Toronto Master Gardeners – Spring Clean Up Resource https://bit.ly/2RTUD7a
Read Forest Ontario’s magazine – Our Forest Spring 2020 issue https://bit.ly/2XSEZgd
Check for listings at CBC GEM as it Hosts Hot Docs online International Film Festival Documentaries https://gem.cbc.ca/. Watch for free online screenings of climate action relevant films:
POWER TRIP (solar energy)
BOREALIS: TO SERVE AND TO PROTECT (World Premiere).
Power Trip description — “Jonathan Scott rose to celebrity status through his HGTV show Property Brothers, where he and his twin tackle ambitious renovation projects and help homeowners see the potential in their homes. When looking to improve his Las Vegas home, he decided to take advantage of the area’s sunny natural resource and install a solar array. Scott was keen to reduce his carbon footprint and become a green energy advocate—only to encounter an entrenched utilities system that was built to sustain fossil fuel industries. In Power Trip, Scott travels throughout the USA, encountering one state after another that has suppressed incentive programs and promoted misinformation campaigns about the benefits of net metering. Featuring interviews with Al Gore and Bernie Sanders, this film makes it clear that there is a growing movement that is ready to capitalize on sustainable solar energy—but first the monopolies that control the electrical grid need to see the light.” by Alexander Rogalski https://bit.ly/3coLSde
Borealis descriptor – “The boreal forest is the largest terrestrial biome on Earth, covering 10 countries and approximately 17 million square kilometres. Home to tens of thousands of species, it is a wonder of the natural world. Majestic aerial footage and hyper-detailed macro photography allow for an immersive experience of this incredibly diverse ecosystem. From fragile seedlings to devastating forest fires, the life cycle of this ever-changing landscape is both resilient and under constant threat. As black spruce, pine and birch communicate with each other, this coniferous community ensures its survival by burning itself. Scientists, hunters, loggers and Indigenous inhabitants share their knowledge of and experience with the wide range of flora and fauna that benefit each other to ensure the forest’s natural renewal. Serving as a meditation on our own survival as a species, the breathtaking cinematography enhances the epic scale of this expansive region and our relationship to it.” by Alexander Rogalski https://bit.ly/2RKVUxy
Read Earth Day.Org’s 11 Ideas for Actions for the Planet During a Pandemic https://bit.ly/3cCtMom
Read this Toronto Star article on “Fifty Firms that Made the Earth Move” since the first Earth Day in 1970, such as Patagonia – US, as the ‘first major clothing company to put protecting the planet at core of its brand (1973),’ Ballard Power Systems – Canada, as a “trailblazing developer of hydrogen fuel-cell technology (1983),’ Unilever – UK/Netherlands, for “launch of the Marine Stewardship Council-certified seafood program with the WWF (1997),’ Plastics Bank – Canada, ‘develops concept of turning plastic waste into currency, paying plastic waste-collectors in developing countries a living wage (2013),’ Alipay – China, which ‘launched the Alipay Ant Forest app, which has planted 122 million trees and counting and inspired similar models in other countries (2016),’ Google – US, which ‘has become the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power (2017),’ Maple Leaf Foods – Canada, as the ‘first major meat company to bet big on plant protein (2019),’ to Microsoft – US, for its 2020 “…..groundbreaking pledge commits to removing all the carbon it has emitted directly or through electricity production since its foundation in 1975.’ https://bit.ly/2VoTl6u
Take a Walk and Notice and Appreciate Signs of Spring Life and Renewal.
Happy Earth Day 2020!