Dave Clements is the author of a Green Beat column. (Langley Advance Times files)

GREEN BEAT: Earth Day turns 50, quietly

As the pope says: ‘This is the time… to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it’

By David Clements/Special to Langley Advance Times

All around the world, organizers were planning a big Earth Day celebration this year, because it was the 50th anniversary of the original Earth Day held April 22, 1970.

Locally, a number of plans were in the works.

On the Earth Day in Metro Vancouver website all of the following cancelled events are listed:

• Party for the Planet at City Hall in Surrey on April 18

• Vancouver Earth Day Parade on Commercial Avenue, April 22

• Pilgrimage to Burns Bog at the Delta Nature Reserve, April 21

• Earth Day in Stanley Park was to take place sometime in April

• Earth Fest at Everett Crawley Park, April 25

• Earth Day in North Vancouver at Mosquito Creek Park, April 26

• Earth Day in Maple Ridge at Memorial Peace Park, April 18

All cancelled!

Here in Langley, I was really looking forward to the Langley Field Naturalists and Friends Celebrate Earth Day Event.

Likewise, around the world Earth Day 2020 will be a quiet affair.

RECENT COLUMN: Virus offers chance to push the pause button

Still somehow, humanity is at a unique juncture to celebrate the earth and reflect.

On April 8, Pope Francis said in an interview “This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it.”

He discussed recent unprecedented planetary events like the bushfires in Australia, extreme weather events and the widespread melting of the polar ice, but said it took a pandemic to really get us to stop and pay attention to these dire warnings.

When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, in the decade leading up to the first Earth Day, she delivered a loud warning on potential silencing of bird song due to pollution.

This year, as so many of us stay home and traffic noise is reduced, we can hear and appreciate the birds in our neighbourhoods this spring.

So how do we celebrate Earth Day this April at home?

I see it already happening in my Langley neighbourhood and among my family members.

People are driving less, walking more, using their bicycles, growing their own vegetables, and spending more time getting to know their local surroundings, even learning their birds.

PAST COLUMN: 12 days of climate action

Noisy celebrations and crowds may not actually lead to concrete change as much as quiet contemplation.

This April each of us have an opportunity to take a quiet moment or two at home to think about how we can each make own footprint on the earth a little lighter.

– David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University

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