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Marking Earth Day in a ‘Silent Spring’

You won't see any large public rallies, like this one in 2017, for Earth Day this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day will be celebrated in an ironically dystopian way on Wednesday.

Past commemorations of this day celebrating our environment and promoting its protection included eco-friendly marches, recycling gatherings, community cleanups, garden tending and many other programs that bring people together for the common cause of a healthier planet.

But this year, most of the country won’t be able to participate in such events due to necessary social distancing measures implemented amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

So various community groups have organized virtual celebrations of Earth Day, such as webinars speaking to the importance of cleaning and preserving our environment. We encourage all of you to seek them out in your community online and participate.

It’s difficult, at this point in time, to think of any other major public issue but coronavirus. But there will come a day when we will have controlled coronavirus and returned to a normal standard of living. 

The same can’t be said about climate change.

While the pauses in modern society have temporarily reduced emissions and cleaned up the air, the fact is we will face the same problems we had before coronavirus once society is restored to full speed.

We will again face the same threats of an irreversible rise in temperature caused by massive, man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Landscapes will be irreversibly altered; forests will burn; rivers and seas will dry up; sea levels will rise; seaside communities will fall into the ocean.

The situation is compounded by the actions of President Trump and some other reckless leaders around the world who have relaxed environmental protection rules for short-term profit, long-term damages be damned. 

Since the start of his presidency, Trump has weakened nearly five decades of environmental regulations across the board and has continued to do so even amid the pandemic, while few people are noticing.

Climate change, and the factors that have caused it, are real. We cannot deny science any longer. We must continue to remain vigilant about our environment and work toward its protection. 

This includes not only participating in community programs cleaning up our respective corners of the world but also electing leaders who share that same responsibility on an even larger scale.

“In nature, nothing exists alone,” wrote Rachel Carson in her groundbreaking environmental book “Silent Spring.” We must be united, as we are in the current pandemic, in fighting for a better planet when life returns to normal.

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