EARTH DAY: It’s time for a global re-set

EARTH DAY: It’s time for a global re-set

By working together, we can beat the pandemic and tackle climate change to create a healthier Earth

Lily Mah-Sen | Contributed

Due to the pandemic, Transition Sooke’s plans for an interactive celebration at the Sooke Community Hall has necessarily been cancelled. But our hearts are still with Mother Earth, as we also care for our family, neighbours, and friends.

We are facing two worldwide threats today:

• The devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which so far has infected more than two million people, killed 145,000 and thrown millions of people unemployed.

• The dire consequences to Earth if we do not act now to mitigate the impact of climate change.

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Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1970, twenty million people took to the streets to protest the environmental damage done by humans to Mother Earth. Earth Day launched the modern environmental movement.

Earth Day 2020 was going to be extra-special, extra-urgent. Events were planned around the world involving more than one billion people in 190 countries.

And then we were hit by COVID-19.

On the positive side, our response to COVID-19 has created some temporary easing of greenhouse gas emissions as coal-fired factories are shut down, air transport is grounded, cars parked at home as non-essential businesses, schools, parks, sports, and entertainment centres closed their doors.

Our air is cleaner. The haze of pollution over our skies is lessening. Wildlife is starting to return to their natural habitats. And people are walking more, bicycling more, eating more home-cooked meals, gardening, and taking the time to talk with each other.

We have been made even more aware and appreciative of the people working to keep us safe: health-care workers, grocery clerks, cleaning staff, garbage collectors, and first responders.

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In Sooke, we see the best side of people. Neighbours shopping for those in self-isolation. Musicians hosting, free on-line events. People cooking free food to distribute to the community. The nightly 7 o’clock cheer for health-care workers. Drive-bys by friends, relatives, and the Sooke Fire Department to cheer house-bound children celebrating their birthdays. Family and friends reconnecting using Zoom and other social media.

The kindness and respect that people are expressing to each other is helping to sustain us during this pandemic.

And this is exactly what Mother Earth needs too. When this pandemic is over, let’s not return to business as usual.

We know that, by working together, we can not only beat the pandemic hitting us today, but also tackle climate change to create a better, healthy Mother Earth for generations to come.

It’s time for a global re-set.

Please join us to mark Earth Day virtually! Globally, Earthday.org has a number of virtual events lined up for Earth Week (earthday.org); and locally in Victoria, Creatively United Community is hosting EarthFest Live: Creative Solutions for a New World throughout the week of April 19-25. (creativelyunited.org).

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Lily Mah-Sen writes for Transition Sooke.