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Earth Day 2020: A 50 Year Retrospective

Today, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, has given me pause for reflection on my retrospective piece from 10 years ago, on the 40th Anniversary (linked below). Back then, even my younger more optimistic self was already feeling bittersweet about the degree of progress, or lack thereof, towards a more sustainable, equitable future, and was seeking much more swift, bold action in the years ahead.

So it’s only natural that now, 10 years later, I’m feeling more dismayed and disturbed at our current trajectory, which has sadly managed to devolve to an even more unacceptably inadequate level. The Hope and Change that I was feeling in 2010 has been obscured by Greed, Delusion and Denial in these last 3 years. At a time when our window of opportunity to act to not only mitigate, but also rapidly adapt to, (the global scientific consensus on) climate change is rapidly closing. At a time when the inextricable links between environmental health and public (human) health are being laid bare in what may amount to the world’s worst global public health pandemic on record.

Thankfully, Mother Nature refuses to bow down to party or profits over safety and sanity, and isn’t afraid to throw out harsh wake up calls. While this COVID-19 pandemic is tragic on so many levels, my hope is that it will serve as the wake-up call that we've so urgently needed, per (the very wise Deep Ecology / environmental activist elder), Joanna Macy: “to wake up, as though from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves, and to each other.”

So that we (in the words of a 10 years-younger version of me): "[may] channel all of that energy that we’ve been expending on maintaining status quo, towards coordinating and collaborating with one another to accelerate progress towards a brighter future for us all. Not only because there is a tremendous amount of upside market potential, but because our very lives and livelihoods depend upon it. Let’s make those early sustainability pioneers proud, and give future generations a new slate of leaders and role models whose footsteps they will proudly want to follow.”

May it be possible, may it be so.

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