By: Kristen Peterson
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The first Earth Day, held in 1970, inspired 10 percent of the U.S. population — nearly 20 million Americans — to take to the streets (and the parks and nature preserves) to show they care about the environment and demand a better future for our planet. The event is credited with starting the modern environmental movement and now spans more than 190 countries around the globe.
This year’s Earth Day will certainly be different. Much of America is sequestered at home, and yet the environmental movement is stronger than ever. While conservation organizations have had to readjust and postpone planned activities, we anticipate more than one billion people will take action online to demand a better way forward in tackling climate change this Earth Day.
The work of our change-making environmental clients is more critical than ever, as we’ve seen stripped-away environmental protections, including monitoring and reporting requirements for pollution, and weakened fuel economy standards.
While this is hard to swallow, there is a hint of possibility that is heartening. Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen across cities, countries, and continents as a result of measures to contain the coronavirus. Grounded flights, lockdowns, and the world’s massive slowdown have led to a blue sky in Los Angeles and clear canals in Venice. Pollution levels in New York have reduced by nearly half and China’s air pollution has seen a drastic drop; here in Maryland, preliminary data shows air quality is also improving.
This improvement is certainly temporary and the result of much hardship. But it is an amazing and timely chance for us to witness how our activity affects the planet and how quickly nature can rebound. It is abundantly clear we are all one interdependent world where problems can quickly spread and multiply around the globe. Just as we make a choice each day to stay home to help those vulnerable in our community during the current pandemic, we can make a choice to take action to help the environment.
The Hatcher Group thanks all the amazing organizations who not only make these choices every day to give us a better tomorrow, but whose commitment also motivates others to do the same. We are so inspired by our clients’ work to restore fisheries, clean up our waterways, fight climate change, limit toxic chemicals, and ensure everyone has access to safe water to drink, clean air to breathe, and open spaces to enjoy.
We hope we will carry forward some of the lessons we’ve learned while sheltering in place — from commuting and traveling less, to planting our own food to eat, to enjoying time outdoors and the peace that nature can bring. But the most important lesson to heed: We are all connected – with each other, and with the planet – and we can make a difference, on Earth Day and every day.
A member of 1199SEIU speaks at a rally in 2019 about the importance of passing the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act for a clean energy future.