Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—the most historically significant health and environmental challenge of our times. From this pandemic, some of our previous behavioral norms will be irrevocably changed. How we respond to this current challenge will now define us—individually, within our communities, at work, and more broadly for social governance throughout the world.
As individuals, we each have important contributions to successfully navigate our way through this pandemic. Today, half a century after the first Earth Day, it’s a time to pause and reflect on how our individual contributions add up to the collective impact we’re making on our communities, the environment, and our planet. We need to be intentional in our actions to successfully navigate this universal challenge—and each of us must now do our part! This Earth Day be sure to:
- Comply with all state and jurisdictional directives for social distancing and stay at home requirements.
- Support our front line medical teams, our emergency responders, and all essential services personnel.
- Take care of our families, loved ones, and ourselves to stay healthy.
- Acknowledge and appreciate the courtesy, thoughtfulness, and friendliness now being displayed by our neighbors, business colleagues, and communities.
- Be very intentional in how we eventually roll back to some of our previous behaviors and work practices.
Tomorrow: Pay It Forward
While not fully apparent now, analogous to the many environmental improvements and benefits that we have realized in the 50 years since the first Earth Day, there will eventually be many positives derived from our actions in the post-pandemic future. How we later associate, assemble, and conduct ourselves with one another will be among those challenges—particularly as it relates to our businesses and our personal and professional lives. In addition, and with regards to the environment, we should also heed the noted recent scientific observations and publications that have highlighted how the mass move to a virtual workforce has coincidentally led to worldwide climate improvements.
Today, as I recognize the 50th anniversary of Earth Day—circumstantially, in a social distancing manner—I remain as inspired by the Earth Day principles from the past 50 years. Remember:
- Every one of you makes a difference!
- Every day is important!
- Every day is Earth Day!
Yesterday: A Catalyst for Change
During the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, I was a young kid. However, the passion and energy that emanated from that first Earth Day was very impressionable, and it directly influenced me to pursue a career of environmental stewardship and my eventual career at Brown and Caldwell.
At the time of Earth Day’s initial observance, unregulated environmental pollution was rampant and pervasive in the United States, and elsewhere in the world. Indicative of the times, one of the more defining moments in the U.S. occurred when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, caught fire from the chemicals and toxins that were prevalent in that waterway. Other nationwide environmental impacts also resulted from the unmitigated actions associated with municipal and industrial pollution—which compromised the environmental quality of our land, waterways, air, and atmosphere.
In response, the U.S. citizenry called for action and on April 22, 1970 , Earth Day was born. That first celebration served as a catalyst to motivate our leaders and elected politicians to enact the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972—and, by extension, the subsequent establishment of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and many further and evolving environmental regulations that remain relevant today.
As a 100% environmental engineering firm, BC’s core services directly address and assist our clients and communities to achieve and sustain these environmental standards, which have now become a baseline expectation of our contemporary society.
Earth Day is now observed by nearly 200 countries around the world. While there have been many notable accomplishments and environmental victories achieved since the first Earth Day in 1970, there are now new and evolving environmental needs and emerging contaminants of concern, which will continue to challenge our best science and engineering efforts moving forward.
For all these reasons, each Earth Day is special to me. Indeed, every day is Earth Day!