January 13, 2020

Start planning for Earth Day’s 50th anniversary

Posted by Laura Guertin

Five years ago, I posted about Earth Day’s 45th anniversary and an effort to encourage everyone to make their Climate Confessions. In September 2019, NBC News started offering a platform for people to submit and post their climate confessions, which also offers tips to be more environmentally friendly. Although we all have confessions we can make, the Earth Day Network has different ideas for how to celebrate 50 years of the environmental movement.


I’m posting this on January 13th, which marks the 100 day countdown to Earth Day 2020, the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day celebration. The Earth Day Network has a mission “to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in over 190 countries to drive positive action for our planet” (About Us page).

The theme of Earth Day 2020 is climate action.

The enormous challenges — but also the vast opportunities — of acting on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.

At the end of 2020, nations will be expected to increase their national commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The time is now for citizens to call for greater global ambition to tackle our climate crisis. Unless every country in the world steps up – and steps up with urgency and ambition — we are consigning current and future generations to a dangerous future.

Earth Day 2020 will be far more than a day. It must be a historic moment when citizens of the world rise up in a united call for the creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.  —  https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2020/ 

So how will you encourage and mobilize your students, campus and community to take climate action?

You may want to create a campus event, join an existing local event, or even journey to national gatherings such as the Earth Optimism 2020 Summit in Washington DC. On my campus, myself and another faculty member are directing students to record and produce “50 Voices of Earth Day” with interviews of 50 students, faculty, staff, and alumni on their views of Planet Earth. We’ll be releasing one podcast a day when we start the 50-day countdown to Earth Day.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure this day (Wednesday, April 22, 2020) is not missed on your calendar!



If you want to give students some perspective as to what the first Earth Day was like, check out this CBS news footage (one episode here, full playlist with 15 episodes is available in YouTube)


For some more recent video footage, The American Museum of Natural History has an Earth Day video playlist that shares changes that have taken place since the first Earth Day.