50 years ago, someone had the idea that if we gathered together on a single day, we could show solidarity in our demands to protect and restore our environment, show strength in numbers, and gather comfort from being with like-minded people. Rivers were on fire, people were dying from pollution and everyone was being poisoned by the world around us.
Over the next decade, we passed laws that became the bedrock of environmental protection in this country. The Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, creation of the EPA – all of these happened, not as a result of Earth Day itself, but because people continued to build strength in numbers and demanded action. That led to a significant public commitment to the protection of our environment and public health. The willingness of people to band together to demand change – sound familiar?
People power, strength in numbers – that’s the ethos we live by. 50 years later, we have made significant progress – our water is cleaner, our air is cleaner, public health is better protected. But as we celebrate 50 years of Earth Day, it is just as clear to us as it must have been to those organizers in 1970 – there is still great work for us to do.
Although we can’t band together in person to show strength and gather comfort this year, we can come together to demand that this health crisis not be used as an excuse to weaken or ignore the requirements of our bedrock environmental protections—it can not be an excuse for the EPA to turn a blind eye to pollution.
This pandemic has shone a light on some shortcomings in some parts of our government. But it has also shown that we are still capable of coming together in big ways to support action. As we face the future and know that this is chance to redefine our “normal” we must be prepared to advocate for the changes we need to protect our planet from climate change and other threats as we move forward.
50 years of Earth Day’s have shown the deep commitment that exists to protect our environment – and we know that there has never been more power or more understanding of the critical work that needs to be done. We may not be together today in body – but we are all together in spirit – pass it on!