Earth Day Is 50: We Are Here!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Today is Earth Day. On this, the 50th Anniversary Observance of the occasion, I opted to take a break from politics, coronavirus, and sports, even The Last Dance, the epic ESPN documentary miniseries focusing on Michael Jordan’s last season with the Bulls (1997-98). I can’t promise that I won’t eventually write about the series. But not today.

Earth Day is an annual reminder of our integral connection to nature, plants, the land, the sea, ecology, and our overarching environment. As humans we have an immutable interdependence with the earth, but also a legacy of responsibility to treat it with care and respect, as the condition in which we bequeath it to our descendants is among the greatest of gifts we will leave behind.

If there is one message that defines the essence of Earth Day, it’s we have but one planet; take care of it. There are a number of ways people tend to express their commitment to our collective home on Earth Day, including:

  • Picking up litter
  • Planting trees
  • Recycling
  • Repurposing
  • Taking a walk or jog in a park or along a greenway
  • Buying an electric vehicle
  • Building to green standards

The trend is to identify a specific theme for elevating, each year, on Earth Day. The theme or area of focus for 2020 is Climate Action. The norm has been to execute projects related to the theme, such as, river cleanups, or carrying out adopt-a-highway projects. This year, due to COVID-19, we are presented with an array of special challenges in commemorating Earth Day. Because practicing social distancing is currently in vogue, and many of us are under stay-at-home orders, Earth Day 2020 is primarily a digital enterprise. There will be numerous virtual events today, like environmental lectures. To find a catalogue of local events, visit

To be clear, social distancing does not mean you’re prohibited from going outside and enjoying nature. Just do so, responsibly. Nature has not been canceled.

In the beginning. The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, with the goal of raising awareness about mankind’s role in protecting our natural world. On this date, 20 million Americans ventured outside and protested in favor of a more eco-conscious society.

While it may be difficult for some people to fathom, at that time many of us were unaware of some serious environmental issues—from air pollution, to toxic waste dumps, to pesticides, to degradation and loss of wilderness lands. Many more people are aware today, but there are also a sizable number of people who deny the significance of human activities in producing negative consequences. That last sentiment deserves a post of its own. Perhaps, another time.

Senator Gaylord Nelson, (D-WI), and activist John McConnell, separately asked Americans to join in the grassroots demonstration. McConnell originally chose the spring equinox (March 21, 1970) and Nelson chose April 22, which ended up becoming the official celebration date. Given that the date of the spring equinox changes over time, it could have made things more complicated to go with that date.

Without question, Earth Day started as a political movement. While it is almost certainly part of a partisan tableau, today, it has gained popularity in many communities as a force to rally folks to gather and clean up litter, plant trees, or to simply reflect on the beauty of nature. As the great poet/balladeer, Marvin Gaye put it…

Earth Day is always celebrated on April 22nd. Earth Day Is 50: We Are Here!”

I’m done; holla back!

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