Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1970, more than 20 million Americans gathered across the nation to celebrate the environment. Launched by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, the goal of “Earth Day” was to inspire citizens to protect air, water, wildlife, and land. Now as Covid-19 wreaks havoc on communities around the world, Earth Day has gone digital. However, its mission of education and action is more relevant than ever. In addition to a global pandemic, we also face severe disruptions from climate change, another substantial threat that will continue to upend society in significant ways.
The coronavirus has taught us that our lives and livelihoods are intertwined. We are connected globally on a biological level. As a nation we can act collectively to help others and care for the environment, work to shift to a more sustainable and just economy, and safeguard public lands and access to nature. After we get through this crisis, the lessons learned can help society “Reset to Green.” This time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders has helped us understand our primal need for connection — in three dimensions — with other humans. It’s also highlighted the power of collective action. More than 40,000 American lives have been lost and hundreds of thousands are sick. Yet, the “flatten the curve” response has shown remarkable community sacrifice and compassion. Medical workers are putting their lives on the line to deal with the wave of cases throughout the country. We all know someone who is out of work or whose business has closed. More than 70,000 Montanans are out of work right now. At the same time, we’ve witnessed incredible creativity and compassion. Restaurants have helped support food banks and families in crisis. Companies have pivoted to manufacture face masks. Teachers and small retail businesses have moved online. Click here for the full article in The Montana Standard.