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Environment & Science

Local Groups Connect People to Earth Day 50th Anniv, Despite COVID Crisis & Social Distancing

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Many local groups would have traditionally used this week to raise awareness and inspire action about environmental causes, from climate change to clean water and air, to pollution.  Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, though attention to it is overshadowed by the corona virus pandemic. 

Several regional groups are trying to keep the spirit alive.

Yvonne Chu with Climate Change Awareness and Action looks at Earth Day as a time people come together for events and get inspiration for change.  With social distancing the group decided to offer another way to connect.  They’ve arranged films with climate change messages to be accessed online … where she hopes people will discuss and maybe take action.  C-C-A-A is also promoting its Carbon Challenge.

“It takes you step-by-step and it instructs you on how you can reduce your carbon footprint without feeling overwhelmed by everything.  Everybody has a place where they feel comfortable moving on because the truth is that it’s a lifestyle change.  Reducing your carbon footprint is something you have to consciously do over time and eventually it will become part of your regular life.”  

Information about the challenge and the films is HERE and on the group's Facebook page.. 

Chu also works for Onondaga Earth Corps which is recruiting youth for future projects, while asking them to create art to show their support for Earth Day – which might also inspire others.  Chu finds herself on this earth day a little conflicted.

“As an organizer I want to be optimistic; as a young person I’m very pessimistic.  I think overall, most people feel very pessimistic as youth.  It’s hard to imagine being able to reverse everything but there is a full understanding that we could do something, and that’s what keeps us going.”  

EARTH DAY @ 50 ACTIVITIES IN SYRCUSE & UPSTATE NEW YORK

The Citizens Climate Lobby’s Martha Viglietta is more optimistic.  The group continues to push for a federal carbon tax, which their research shows would slow the impacts of the climate crisis.

“Once the fee is imposed on all fossil fuels – and the fee rises every year – that drives consumers, businesses and investors toward the renewables market.  The modeling studies show that emissions of greenhouse gases come down actually faster than the Paris (Climate) Accord benchmarks.”

They’re asking people to pressure Congress member John Katko to co-sponsor a carbon tax bill.  Both Viglietta and Chu know the community’s attention is on the pandemic, its health and economic impacts.  But maybe within the current crisis is a message.

“The coronavirus is certainly a crisis for us, but we will come out the other side … and climate change problems will still be there," said Viglietta. " I think we can learn lessons from the corona crisis about preparedness and early action, because when you’re facing some big problem, being prepared and taking early action is certainly better than trying to play catch-up later when the effects have gotten worse.”     

Citizens Climate Lobby is holding an Earth Day virtual event:  featuring perspectives on the issue from speaker Dr. Katharine Hayhoe and workshops on suggested actions.  Viglietta’s earth day message is that there are solutions … that just require people’s will – and the political will – to enact.