Earth Day 2020 goes digital

How will you celebrate Earth Day?

This Wednesday, April 22, will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day event. Held in the spring of 1970 as anti-war protests, demonstrations and teach-ins on campuses across America reached a fervid pitch, the first Earth Day was an expression of those tumultuous times.

It was a protest against the damage and destruction caused by industry, war and consumption. It helped to raise awareness about global concerns and arguably helped to spawn the environmental movement of the modern era.

It seems, 50 years later, we are again experiencing tumultuous times. With the CV 19 pandemic disrupting our normal routines and causing a global pause to travel, commerce and industry, we have been forced to reexamine the basic needs of our families, our community and humanity as a whole. This pandemic will stretch our local and global systems and institutions to the breaking point. These current economic and social conditions are similar to those predicted by leading climate-crisis advocates and the science that supports their claims.

Much like the first Earth Day, Earth Day 2020 is a product of its time. At a time when social distancing has shuttered campuses across the globe, campus-based celebrations are not happening this year as planned. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Surfrider Foundation are all hosting online versions of Earth Day 2020. All have some type of online platform for you to participate in and learn how you can help create a more sustainable and environmentally just world.

Many Earth Day events in the past have involved community-service events like beach or river cleanups, planting gardens and trees, or trailside maintenance. Earth Day has always been about raising awareness, engaging others and working for change.

This year is no different except for CV 19. Earth Day 2020 will bee the first digital and online celebration of global environmental activism of this scale. Innovation and the internet will help to make Earth Day 2020 one of the largest global events in history. Live streaming events, discussions and other online forums are everywhere in cyberspace. Webinars to learn about composting, climate change or pollinator protection are just a few examples being offered online on the following websites: compostfoundation.org, earthdaylive2020.org, xerces.org.

Locally, Kaua‘i Community College is hosting an online environmental film festival in support of Earth Day 2020. The films are mostly documentary style or science-based investigative journalism, with one obvious exception. There are four films currently showing, with an additional 12 more selected for future screenings this week and next. Viewers can go to KCC’s webpage, kauai.hawaii.edu, and look for the Earth Day 2020 banner across the top. Click on the “More Information” tab to see the selection of films available to see. The films were selected to help share information and inspiration about possible solutions to the critical societal and environmental issues of our times.

In these current times, things like planting a garden, picking up ‘opala or driving less can all help to reduce the stress and challenges of the day. Big changes are taking place on our planet, and communities like ours are confronted with this new reality in ways that were unthinkable just a month ago. From catastrophic fires, super storms and epic floods to the economic shutdown related to the CV19 pandemic, our mother Earth and its inhabitants are under assault.

Like the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day 2020 will attempt to reach out and engage others in the fight against environmental and social injustice. Earth Day 2020 is another opportunity to learn ways to create resiliency for your household, for your community and for our planet. Earth Day 2020 is a call to action to get involved, bee inspired and motivate others to aloha ‘aina and aloha each other.

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Jimmy Trujillo is a resident of Kapa‘a.

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