April 20 – OB Rag – Jim Miller Reports – This week is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The first Earth Day in 1970 was born after United States Senator Gaylord Nelson witnessed the horrible damage caused by a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara and was moved to try to harness the energy of the student movements of the sixties by creating what he called “a national teach-in” on the environment.
Consequently, on April 22nd of 1970, 20 million Americans took part in the first Earth Day with groups that had been separately fighting for clean air and water, wildlife protections, and a host of other environmental causes coming together to make a national statement.
In the wake of the first Earth Day, the United States saw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air and Water Acts as well as the Endangered Species Act. Since that time, Earth Day has become an American institution even as we have seen the governmental agencies that that movement created fail to adequately address the growing climate crisis, and forces aligned with the fossil fuel industry deny science and push back hard-won environmental protections.
Hence the call to action that Earth Day was and is, has never been more urgent.
Here in San Diego a coalition of environmental, student, union, and community groups are coming together in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis to host a Virtual Climate Uprising in the spirit of the first Earth Day. As their press release notes:
In defiance of the challenges inherent in the COVID-19 pandemic and the existential threat of climate change, as multitudes struggle in isolation, the virtual climate rally will serve as a reminder that no challenge is too great when we collaborate for a common cause.
San Diegans of all ages will join together to demand urgent action to halt the climate crisis. As with the pandemic, we all must do our part to secure a sustainable future. The Virtual Climate Uprising will make it clear that the time for action is now.
More specifically, the organizers are expecting hundreds of people including activists and high school and college students. The main virtual rally begins at 12 pm and speakers include County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Bobby Wallace from the Barona Band of Indians, ICU nurse Shannon Cotton, along with high school and college students.
The afternoon sessions will offer a COVID-19 session with relief information, a workshop on sustainability, a community yoga and mindfulness workshop, a session for high school and college students, and more. Maleeka Marsden of the Climate Action Campaign will be the closing speaker.
Some of the key issues the event will focus on include a Green New Deal that can provide millions of new jobs, the need for more affordable mass transit and a regional plan that meets emission reduction targets, how San Diego’s Climate Action Plan can get us to 100% green energy, and how California can end oil drilling.
For more details on this event and how to sign in to participate see https://climateuprisingsd.org
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