50 years ago, millions of concerned citizens, fuelled by environmental concern for the state of the planet, took to the streets in many major US cities and communities, at colleges and schools to show their support for the natural world. Earth Day was born that year. Today, it is a global celebration with the involvement of nearly every country on the planet. It’s a day meant to mobilize individuals, businesses, and governments to take more tangible environmental actions and foster a sustainable future.
On this 50th anniversary, Earth Day Network, the organization leading the movement has chosen the theme of Climate Action. It’s a worthy point of focus as climate change represents the biggest obstacle for a healthy planet in the generations to come.
Here in the Great Bear Rainforest and across the Pacific coast, we see the impacts of our changing climate every day. Higher incidences of non-native species moving inshore due to warmer water temperatures are paired with increasingly inhospitable spawning rivers for returning wild salmon and our rainforest is stressed from drought and other changing weather patterns. In an archipelago driven by sea level interactions, humans and wildlife alike are feeling the effects of human-caused climate change. Today is an opportunity to shed light on this and work together for this special place as well as our planet as a whole.
Coronavirus and Earth Day
On top of the 50th anniversary, Earth Day is also falling amidst one of the largest global events in recent history – the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. As humankind continues its effort to stop the virus from spreading through social distancing measures, we’ve also lessened our global carbon footprint. In response to these changes in the global environment, wildlife and natural spaces are reaping some benefits.
Our Executive Director Ian McAllister has been quarantined on his field expedition catamaran, Habitat, and has seen first-hand how a global pause in human activity is impacting our waters:
“It is an experience that I never thought I would have in my life, the coast actually going quiet – not louder – from a lack of human activity. To be able to document the grey whale migration and the return of Humpback whales to our coast over the last few weeks in the absence of shipping noise and air traffic seemed almost like going back in time… Just the sound of whales, birds and wind day after day.”
But on land we are witnessing another scenario. Clearcut logging of ancient forests is continuing without pause during the pandemic while the government works to relax standards and push ill-conceived resource projects through putting human communities, especially First Nations at greater risk.
The good news for our environment is that governments and public citizenry have clearly shown that bold and decisive action can be taken when a crisis presents itself.
This Earth Day, Pacific Wild is adding its voice to the countless environmental organizations around the globe calling for individuals to stand up for the future of our planet. We encourage you to get involved in your community, write your local representatives, and spread awareness about the environmental issues that matter most to you.