Earth Day 2020: Reflections on a crisis, the future and a golden anniversary

With the Corona Virus’ continuing spread, it seems like the Earth, this year, has been figuratively turned on its head. Who knows how many people will be thinking about, much less participating in, 2020’s Earth Day activities – the word festivities here just doesn’t seem apropos. With this latest pandemic, things today just seem so non-normal, out of kilter, upside down.


That said, this year marks the special occasion’s 50th anniversary for the event was first recognized, officially, Apr. 22, 1970. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, incidentally, proved inspirational in and was responsible for helping make Earth Day 1970 possible.

A crisis monumental in scope

It appears as though protection of the environment will be the last thing on people’s minds at this particular point in time. There are more important things to focus our energies on such as: Being able to treat and take care of the multitudes that have contracted the Corona Virus and have become ill, finding effective ways of preventing the disease’s further spread and to work on identifying a cure through a vaccine and/or other effective intervention schemes. Like some scientists and medical experts espouse: “This is not the time to let up on the accelerator.”

What we are witnessing first-hand seems surreal, the COVID-19 pandemic itself playing out the way it has been in real-time and before our very eyes. We’ve all seen the images again, figuratively, pouring out of the T.V. as well as the grim statistics circulated and shared. We’ve heard the warnings, advice, recommendations and suggestions from a wide variety of sources, all in an effort to help ourselves, others keep better protected. And, we’ve heard the survival stories and the progress made in both the areas of treatment and with regard to eradication. It’s a kind of focused attention the likes of which are seen only occasionally.

Where combating the spread of the infection is concerned, failure just isn’t an option here. Success with regard to this matter is, quite literally, de rigueur, and figuratively, everything. Speaking to this, not a single person can afford to let his or her guard down.

At this stage and to some extent, the rate at which the number of infections overall is occurring appears to be slowing, softening. That being the case this does not mean for one second that we as a society should be taking our eye off of the ball and/or assume that the trend in the number of infections will automatically continue either leveling off (flattening) or subsiding (falling). We must remain vigilant.

Though these successes may not seem like such, they are. The opposite – failures – rest assured, these are not. Another bright spot is that air pollution common in many locations about the globe is retreating, clearing, even disappearing, giving way to more auspicious air-quality conditions. To see how air in different areas, localities, regions of the world is faring, check here.

The cleaner-air bit, there’s much to be said for that. And, it should not take a world pandemic to cause a remedy of this nature to come about. For more on and to get more perspective regarding this aspect, check here.

Which causes, leads or prompts one to think that post-pandemic, when that time is at hand, if we shouldn’t at least give pause to consider if all of the travel done all over the world could be walked back some.

Who knows?! Maybe for a time, that is, at least until such time that some semblance of normalcy returns, it could be the case that, as a general rule, there will be a considerable travel scale-back.

Along these lines, perhaps more persons could work from home. Conferences, a second area, could experience a re-think in that more and more of these could be conducted online? Following from this there might be increased opportunity to tele-doctoring, whereby patients, regarding all non-essential health or medical needs could at first consult with the medical community remotely.

U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson

So, now in turning attention on the notion of Earth Day itself, that the whole occasion got started a half-century ago is no accident. It was conceived with the idea of helping protect the environment (air, land, water) and saving the planet and seemed foremost on many, many people’s minds.

Here it is 50 years after the fact and the whole world, it appears, is preoccupied with the singular mission of winning the war against the COVID-19 pandemic and with good reason. That our lives have been disrupted, interrupted and put on hold, we need to remember this will only be temporary and that we will get through and past this and everyday life will resume.

Thinking about tomorrow

When that day does arrive, whenever that may be, no doubt for many of us, we will be looking to and contemplating the future if not working toward other, more familiar resolves: taking not only better care of the Earth but us too.

Oh, and about Earth Day – yesterday and today – when it gets right down to it, that’s what all that this Earth Day – and all 49 of those that preceded this, the 50th – is really all about.

Upper image above: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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