On April 22, we marked the celebration of 50 years of Earth Day. Founded in 1970, Earth Day called attention to the growing imperative in the ’70s to protect the global environment. For the last several decades, Earth Day has been expanded to Earth Week to allow for greater emphasis on the need for change.
In 2020, the need is even greater for humanity to examine and alter all we are doing that negatively impacts the natural environment and wildlife. From melting ice caps to acidification of the world’s oceans to the disappearance of vulnerable habitats, we are putting innumerable species, including our own, at risk. We all have personal experiences related to this.
Against this backdrop, along comes COVID-19 and our world, as we know it, stops. Three months ago, who could have foreseen that the activities we took for granted would be displaced by strict “isolation” in our homes and that we would be discouraged from visiting even our closest families for fear of infection. And that we would willingly do it, though we might not like it.
No dinners out, no hockey games, no concerts, no walks in crowded places, no going to school or to work… all of us trying to keep our families and ourselves safe at home.
Yet, while we are keeping our distance, I see us drawing closer together. We are finding new pathways to education, to work, to socialize, to shop, to enjoy life. Even though some of us complain about how technology has taken over our lives, it has actually given us tools to talk to and see one another when real face-to-face is impossible during this time of pandemic. We share life’s moments in new, possibly more expansive ways. In keeping our distance, we are actually creating social solidarity.
While this is our new reality, at least for the time being, I am in awe of what is happening to our Earth. During these few months of isolation, we are actually seeing a significant change in the environment.
It’s like the Earth is taking a giant breath of fresh air.
Polluted waters are clearing up, the air is becoming more breathable, vast areas showing industrial pollution are shrinking, indigenous animals are returning to places where they haven’t been seen for years. These are signs of the kind of change we would like to see not just during Earth Week, but always. Even though there is debate about whether these changes can be sustained, what it tells me is that change is possible. It is within our grasp, if we want it enough.
Earth Week 2020 may be our turning point. I hope it is and I encourage you to find new pathways in your own life.
As always, Paulina, Vivian and our entire Emterra family join me in wishing you, your families and your colleagues well.