Story at a glance
- Many events are moving to a digital platform due to restrictions on in-person gatherings and outdoor activity.
- For causes that focus on the environment, the transition is more difficult.
- Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22, has announced a plan to go digital this year.
The 50th anniversary of Earth Day wasn't supposed to be celebrated quite like this. But the global pandemic has only made environmental issues, especially those that affect public health, more relevant. So the event will go on — online, that is.
“This unprecedented time has stopped us all in our tracks,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network, in a release. “As each of us ensures that those around us are safe and well, it is in a momentous opportunity to examine our individual and collective relationship with the natural world and how our activities impact the planet. The way forward is hopeful, and we have an opportunity to forever change how we interact with the environment in our own backyard and our community at large.”
With in-person events such as organized cleanups heavily restricted, if not banned altogether, organizers have begun postponing their plans until the fall. Meanwhile, the Earth Day Network will rely on a digital-first strategy to fulfill their goal of diversifying, educating and activating the worldwide environmental movement.
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“Whether it be coronavirus or our global climate crisis, we cannot shut down,” said Rogers. “Instead, we must shift our energies and efforts to new ways to mobilize the world to action.”
Organizers of Earth Day, which has been celebrated on April 22 since 1970, recently announced a program of digital events for the days and weeks surrounding the annual event. A lineup of names including Al Gore, John Kerry, Zac Efron and Pope Francis will headline a 15-hour live digital event on the organization's website, consisting of messages, talks, teach-ins and performances.
Under the banner “24 Hours of Action,” Earth Day Network will also reveal an action an hour for participants to take, in addition to individual digital earth day events for different age groups and in different languages.
“Our current pandemic demonstrates that governments must embrace science early. As we see now, many governments were slow to respond or even indifferent about the science of the coronavirus pandemic,” Rogers said. “But the last few weeks have also demonstrated that our society, even at the international level, is capable of mass shifts across all sectors to meet a crisis head-on. We must apply the same scale and urgency of our response to climate change.”
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