This article appeared in the April 20, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Rising to an ‘impossible’ challenge and other Earth Day lessons

Martha Irvine/AP
Tia Nelson, daughter of Earth Day founder Sen. Gaylord Nelson, looks at photos from her father's archive on March 2, 2020, in Madison, Wisconsin. Ms. Nelson, who was 13 when the first Earth Day happened, says she is heartened by a new generation of young climate activists who have taken up the cause.

Today’s stories explore the privilege implied in stay-at-home orders, how small businesses in Russia are rising to the COVID challenge, a town using past tragedy as a guiding light through the pandemic, how Earth Day changed America, and 10 books to carry you away while you stay at home. But first, a look back to how America found hope during another dark time.

In 1970, little seemed to be going right with the natural world. Rivers caught fire. Acid rain fell from the sky. Birds were disappearing. But that spring a simple message began to take root in American thought: There’s one planet Earth, so we better take care of it together.

As tens of thousands of people gathered in American cities for the world’s first Earth Day on April 22, founder Gaylord Nelson told the crowd in Denver: “The objective is an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all other human beings and all living creatures.”

That message carries new weight as we mark the 50th Earth Day amid two seemingly intractable global challenges: climate change and a pandemic.

The end of the coronavirus pandemic is uncertain, but the world is gathering momentum together, taking steps that previously seemed impossible. The same is true for the climate crisis. Scientists, policy makers, engineers, and everyday citizens are working to preserve our planet.

This week, in honor of Earth Day’s pioneers, the Monitor is teaming up with Covering Climate Now, a partnership of hundreds of global news outlets, to explore climate solutions. Check back throughout the week for a look at nature-based solutions, Boston’s quest to go carbon neutral, and efforts to integrate solar power and agriculture.


This article appeared in the April 20, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/20 edition
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