As we wait for more news on the legislative front, I’m eager to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with you this week.
On April 22, 1970, our nation celebrated its first Earth Day. Inspiring millions of Americans in its very first year, the date was chosen primarily to take full advantage of student involvement on college campuses around the country. People packed public spaces all around the United States to highlight the negative impacts of years of air and water pollution and how those impacts caused great community suffering.
Bringing various groups together who independently fought oil industries, power companies, waste corporations, and wildlife extinction, Earth Day proved to be an excellent idea. In fact, over the years, powerful environmental legislation has been adopted through bipartisan efforts - starting with the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.
Mobilizing 100s of millions of people all over the world, Earth Day continued to grow over the years. But, it wasn’t until 30 years after its first celebration that the push for clean energy would become the centerpiece - all in an effort to stop climate change. You can read more on the history of Earth Day here.
Today, because of global digital advancement, particularly social media, Earth Day brings more and more people together to promote better stewardship of our planet’s air, land, and water.
And, as we face current challenging times, the founding pillars of Earth Day are showing to be important now more than ever. With many studies identifying air pollution as one of the biggest contributing factors in contracting and dying from the coronavirus, this week of action needs participants to use their voices and resources to protect the planet even more.
More closely, communities of color and low-income populations disproportionately bear the brunt of environmental issues. Specifically, research shows that black and brown communities are disproportionately contracting and dying from COVID-19 at alarming rates because of years of pollution burden. So, this year’s Earth Day of Action may be one of the most important of all years.
You can begin to get involved by joining us tomorrow at 12:30 PM. In celebration of Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary and along with our partners, Citizens Climate Lobby, and the Environmental Defense Action Fund, CVSC is hosting a Climate & Solar Energy webinar. We will be discussing climate change impacts in South Carolina and the basics of transitioning to solar energy. Register for the webinar here.
On Wednesday, April 22nd at 7 PM, Earth Day South Carolina will be hosting a discussion panel with Jim Gandy of WLTX, Rev. Leo Woodberry of New Alpha Community Development Corporation, and Kirstin Dow from the University of South Carolina. Topics include strategies to fight the climate crisis, sustainable land and water use, and environmental justice.
Finally, on Thursday, April 23rd at 6 PM, CVSC invites you to join our field team for a Virtual Film Screening of the documentary, Clinging to Coal: West Virginia’s Fight Over Green Jobs. We will host an informal conversation after the screening. This event is family friendly, so kids are welcome!
As you can see, Earth Day started out as a one-day celebration; it is now a week-long movement. So, I’ll leave you this week with a quote from its founder, former Senator Gaylord Nelson: “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.”
Thank you for all that you do to create a safer South Carolina.