April 22nd, 2020: The 50 anniversary of Earth Day

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day that began on April 22nd, 1970.

The concept of Earth Day was, and is, to raise awareness of the world’s environment and climate.  Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin came up with the idea after a massive oil spill in 1969 in California.

Each year, people have celebrated on April 22nd by taking part in activities such as picking up litter and planting trees.

This year however, as a result of the worldwide pandemic, celebrations have been curtailed except through on-line.  While COVID-19 is ravaging the world, it has resulted in a greener climate with the lockdown in travel and transportation.  The waters of Venice are now clear, air pollution has cleared in many countries and, as a result of fewer people, wildlife has begun to feel ‘at home’ once more.

With eight out of 10 flights globally cancelled and the oil industry in turmoil, the climate has actually become greener.

The pandemic has demonstrated that people can not only change their behavior if it means the health of their families is at risk but it has also indicated the affect that human behavior has on the environment.

Will humankind learn from this catastrophic time or will we simply go back to our busy lives?  Only time will tell.

In summer 2018, European Space Agency (ESA) joined with the musician Vangelis and the family of scientist Professor Stephen Hawking to beam a message marking his passing to the nearest black hole. “On 22 April 2020, Earth Day, we’re transmitting this poignant message to all of planet Earth – as a message of hope, to say that, by working together, we can overcome this crisis and others facing humankind.”