An Earth Day Like No Other

As I look out onto my backyard in East Sacramento, working from my home office (aka bedroom), I never imagined a spring like this. I don’t think anyone did.

Across California and around the world, our lives have been completely altered. Some of us are spending our days responding to the COVID crisis—surging medical capacity, protecting those most vulnerable to the virus, and working to slow the spread of the virus. Others are doing their part to “flatten the curve” by working remotely (if their job is stable), educating their kids, and caring for family.

As I reflect on all of this, I am so thankful to the men and women working across our economy to keep us safe and healthy: medical and public health staff, farmers and farmworkers, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, custodial staff… the list goes on and on.

Colorado High School Students Celebrate the First Earth Day in 1970 (Denver Public Library)

Colorado High School Students Celebrate the First Earth Day in 1970 (Denver Public Library)

Amidst this surreal backdrop, a monumental environmental milestone has arrived: the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. A half-century ago, in 1970, a concept took form to dedicate a day to protecting and restoring our planet. It was a radical concept for its time, and many mark it as the dawn of the modern environmental movement. I imagine Earth Day’s original organizers had no idea it would be celebrated across the planet a half-century later.

Fully 50 years after that first Earth Day, we can mark significant progress protecting our planet at the same time we face unprecedented and existential environmental crises— none bigger than climate change.

In the coming days, we’ll come together across the state, thanks to the many organizations and online platforms, to reflect on environmental progress and challenges. We’ll also take time to celebrate our incredible natural environment and get outdoors in a safe way (in our yards and neighborhoods). While they won’t take place as the large, in-person events we were planning, I’m looking forward to all of this and the challenge of adapting to meet the moment.

Department of Fish and Wildlife collecting Paiute cutthroat trout for reintroduction into Silver King Creek.

At our own California Natural Resources Agency, we have a week filled with fun, reflective, and educational events for the whole family that can be enjoyed in and around your own home. This includes TED-style talks by our Agency’s scientists, an online discussion on the state of our environmental movement, and even a do-it-yourself “Nature Near You Bioblitz.” Our friends over at the California Environmental Protection Agency are also hosting remote Earth Day events to celebrate this momentous occasion and I hope you will take a look at what exciting opportunities they have planned.

Please check out these events and join us!