Environmental Almanac

Perspectives on Earth Day


An invitation to participate in a different kind of Earth Day event.

In the spirit of bringing people together by the means we have available, this week I’ve invited some friends to pass around the microphone—virtually, of course—to share their perspectives on celebrating Earth Day next week even as we cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Thanks, Rob. Amanda Pankau here, Energy Campaign Coordinator for Prairie Rivers Network.

This Earth Day I would like to encourage folks to learn about Environmental Justice. The COVID-19 crisis highlights how public health issues are directly related to environmental issues and why fighting for clean water and a healthy environment is so important.

Environmental Justice simply means that all people should be protected from environmental pollution and have the right to a clean environment. Environmental justice communities are those that experience increased levels of pollution from industry and they are disproportionately low-income and communities of color. COVID-19 poses a unique threat to them because those communities already have increased risks of respiratory, cardiac, and other diseases, and often lack access to clean drinking water, fresh foods, and adequate healthcare.

Thanks, Amanda. I’m Cindy Shepherd, Central Illinois Outreach Coordinator for Faith in Place.

One important catalyst for the first Earth Day was a photo taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft. From that perspective we saw our fragile, luminescent planet hung in the vastness blackness of space.

That perspective made a difference for people.  It did for me. That first Earth Day, with three of my 7th grade friends, I climbed through a barbed wire fence toward a belching power plant, on a mission to uncover pollution. Spoiler alert – we didn’t succeed. But we didn’t get caught either.  50/50 success.

But we did it because that photo showed us what was at stake.

Fast forward 50 years - humanity is having another profound shift in perspective. From this pandemic angle, we see with fresh eyes how precious life is.  How connected we are to those who produce our food, who share the air we breathe.  

But we also see how powerful we are - how much it matters – what each of us, and our communities and governments choose to do. 

Thank, Cindy. I’m Savannah Donovan, Environmental Public Program Coordinator with the Urbana Park District.

On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we face both a global pandemic and a global climate crisis. However, as business has slowed due to the coronavirus, cities around the world have seen dramatically improved air quality. Even in our daily lives we can see how simple actions like our travel habits, our food choices, and our purchasing decisions add up to create a larger impact on others and the world around us.

We don’t have to simply bounce back from this pandemic to the way things used to be. We can use this time as a springboard to launch forward into new ways of living and new ways of seeing the world.

Though we will remain physically distant this Earth Day, we can still feel connected and inspired. Join community members from across Champaign County and beyond for C-U on Earth Day next Wednesday, April 22nd at noon, by emerging from your home and standing outside for fifteen minutes to demonstrate your commitment to action on the environment this Earth Day.

C-U Earth Day: https://cuearthday2020.wixsite.com/event

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/592607444667662/