My turn, Kyle Donnelly: How is world living up to Earth Day promise?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 23, 2020

By Kyle Donnelly

A promise was made on April 22, 1970.

Many remember this date with great significance; it marks the day of the first Earth Day celebration in America. From coast to coast, millions celebrated the Earth and turned anger into peace and community as people hit the streets to bring awareness for our planet.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a promise as “a declaration that one will do or refrain from something specified.” The promise made that Earth Day was a declaration to protect nature and to make sure the future included clean, healthy air and water.        

The question that I would like to ask, as a student of the environment, is, “Has the promise of environmental care and respect been renewed?”

As many would likely argue, that the promise has not been kept; however, I will argue that steps have been taken to renew the promise. The city of Salisbury has shown a commitment to sustainability and for care for our planet. Environmental education organizations that exist in Salisbury help inspire new generations to help fulfill the promise for a healthy, environmentally positive future here in Salisbury and beyond.

Fifty years ago, a promise was made by millions. From the young man who was a senior in high school who woke up early to post posters that held messages like “the Earth doesn’t belong to you, you belong to the Earth” across his high school campus, to the people who took to the street in protest of environmental wrongdoings.

The first Earth Day, which was a product of the environmental movement, was able to pull momentum from the other social movements of the 1960s and 1970.

Earth Day came out of socially difficult times. However, hard and unique times give us a time to discover something new. Now, 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic, has led to reduced vehicle use and reductions in pollution, and we are able to experience more beautiful blue skies.

During this time of social distancing, many are also able to have time to appreciate nature, with walks outside the house and around the community. This interesting time has allowed Mother Earth time to breathe. A renewed appreciation for nature will hopefully inspire people to commit to taking part in more environmentally sustainable behaviors, such as linking errands together to use less fuel, recycling a plastic soda bottle instead of sending it to the landfill or carpooling more. The list continues with things that can help the environment one step at a time.

Do you think the promise has been renewed? During this time of celebration for the 50th Earth Day, why don’t you join me to renew the promise for a clean, healthy and prosperous future?

Kyle Donnelly is a freshman environment and sustainability major at Catawba College from Fayetteville. He is founder of the environmental advocacy group Fridays for Future-Salisbury.