Fifty years ago, Walter Cronkite, the “most trusted man in America'” summarized the first Earth Day in a two minute commentary that seems both remarkable and relevant today. It’s well worth watching.
This week we commemorate history — the 50th anniversary of Earth Day — and ask about the present and future. Read on. And then, please take a bit of time to share your thoughts with us. 

In 1970, the nation was at a moment of environmental peril. Only eight years earlier Rachel Carson had published Silent Spring, documenting the devastating impact of DDT on wildlife. Air and water pollution were blatantly visible and rampant. Some estimate up to 10% of the total population of the US participated in the first Earth Day. For many, the national teach-in was galvanizing. In the following three years, the US Environmental Protection Agency was created, and the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and more were all signed into law. 

On Earth Day 2020, we face new, and old, perils. Some of them are furthering a reawakening of awareness of our surroundings. This month, City Lab asked readers to “draw maps of their worlds in the time of coronavirus.”, like the one here, are fascinating and point to the yearning for reconnection — and to the value of reflection. 

This moment provides the opportunity for reflection. There are enormous costs to the pandemic, not equally shared, many likely to continue for an indeterminate time. But, we also see some good things. The surging demand for local parks and trails. Pollution levels dropping. More walking and biking. 

More gardening and baking. And, the beginnings of reflection on opportunities for the post-pandemic future. 

What are people thinking and writing about? Everything from: how city life might be improved and the role urban farming, neighborhoods, parks, and air quality might play; to how grocery shopping and agriculture will change; to impacts on a transition to sustainable energy; and more. Last week, we summarized thoughts on how local this moment highlights the value of local parks and trails and the need for more of them. 

Lightning Update is a regular communication of the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions of the Partnership or member organizations.
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Support for the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership is provided by:
National Park Service Chesapeake
EPA Chesapeake Bay Program
USDA Forest Service
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Virginia Outdoors Foundation
US Fish & Wildlife Service
Chesapeake Conservancy

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