What is Earth Teaching Us? (Happy 50th Earth Day!)

April 22, 2020

In 1970, 10% of the American Population rallied on the first Earth Day. 50 years later, the kindest gift we have given the environment is the months of shutting down Covid-19 caused.  How do I know that?  Earth has spoken…..

Let’s take a birds-eye view.  The expression on Earth’s face is very serene.  NASA posted a great picture of China showing how Nitrogen Dioxide levels are way down. As commuters no longer idle on freeways, planes no longer fill the sky, and industry has taken a break from feeding particulates into our air, slowly the level of Carbon Dioxide has similarly dropped across the planet.  Ahhh….. Refreshing!

Mother Nature has seen the waters clear in canals, streams and rivers and whispered to the fish to return.  For the first time in decades, swans grace the canals in Venice. Wildlife dependent on tourists feeding them, are learning again where to find the foods that are healthier for them and regain their natural independence. And without our vehicles and industrial noises, seismic impact of man is measurably noted.

So as we sit and panic over the education of our youth, I want to point to them with the lens of what youth have been doing for Earth lately in hopes you are paying attention to the lessons they know better than us.  The youth movement has been the most impactful lately as politicians roll back environmental protections and President Trump pulls the United States out of the Paris Agreement.  Youth are inspired by young leaders like Sweden’s Greta Thunberg who founded Fridays for our Future, and encouraged students to protest during school days.  The youth movement has many organizations – Zero Hour, Sunrise Movement, Greening ForwardExtinction Rebellion, Earth Uprising and Youth Environmental HUB.  Not only are the youth challenging adult leaders to think differently, they are educating their peers in meaningful ways, and we are all winning. 

Anyone used a straw lately?  Or did you think twice about that plastic tube?  It is thanks to a 9 year old.  Milo Cress was only 9 in 2011 when his focus on plastic waste examined the most common culprit.

Are we listening?  When we can again walk out our doors and hop into our cars for a non-essential journey, will we think about the impact on Earth?  Will we notice the air looking hazy near the horizon again?  Will we miss the extra stars we saw without our telescopes? 

I can only imagine Earth’s wish on this 50th anniversary.  No candles, please. Let’s not burn things to celebrate. Instead, plant your garden and choose organic measures against pests.  Ladybugs are my white fly friends for our orange trees and aphids off our tomatoes. Rethink how you will return to work, if you can, do a few days at home, bicycle, or take the train. Make family outings to walk-able places.  Why not?  Haven’t you been exploring your own neighborhood and parks?

Happy 50th Earth Day!

I hope you and yours are well,

Let not “When the air was clean…”

be an old story we tell. – Kristen Brown