Fifty years ago, a group of activists and politicians in California came together with the idea of establishing a national event to celebrate Earth and organize for environmental change. That first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 brought 20 million Americans together to demonstrate the importance of conservation. The nascent environmental movement quickly pushed through landmark legislation such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, and established a new federal branch, the Environmental Protection Agency.
This year, event organizers in 193 countries will celebrate the 50th anniversary of that first Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
Planners had hoped to bring millions of people together outside, but given social distancing guidelines, the events have moved online and into backyards to offer people ways to participate from home on Wednesday and throughout the week.
The Earth Day Network, one of the largest organizers of Earth Day events, will be hosting a 15-hour livestream featuring musicians, celebrities, religious leaders, environmental advocates, and government officials from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m PDT Wednesday. There are also links to local events around the world, so you’re sure to find something for any age group at any time of day.
You can also join in events hosted by groups from California. KQED's Deep Look is hosting a virtual screening and discussion with videos about some of Earth's tiniest marvels. The Exploratorium will be streaming a Virtual Earth Day with activities for children. The California Academy of Sciences will offer activities and talks livestreamed on the Academy's YouTube channel.
Here's our list of top picks:
Things To Do
- The CalAcademy will kick off a City Nature Challenge for all ages at 10:00 a.m.
- The American Museum of Natural History will host EarthFest, beginning at 7:00 a.m., with events all day for children and families.
- NASA is hosting Earth Day At Home, featuring livestream events in addition to social media activities. Follow #EarthDayAtHome.
- A special live program designed for 4th through 8th grade students streams from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. on the CalAcademy's YouTube channel.
- The California State Parks Foundation will also have a social media presence on Earth Day with opportunities for virtual participation.
- Fresno State Sustainability Club is hosting a Digital Earth Day with a variety of presentations.
- The Oakland Zoo has you covered with family-friendly activities you can do on your own schedule.
Things to Learn
- Want to learn more about how the food on your plate affects the environment? Eat for the Earth is hosting a webinar about sustainable food choices.
- Follow the Earth Day Eats campaign at The Marine Mammal Center to learn how to prepare ocean-friendly meals for your family with Top Chef Eric Adjepong.
- Check out this Soul Food Salon with Rare to learn more about how you can reduce your carbon foot through sustainable food choices.
- Tune to a discussion about how to end extinction with The Center for Biological Diversity.
- Meet two National Geographic Explorers through a virtual panel for middle and high school students on April 23 at 3:00 p.m., hosted by The Tech museum.
- Get up close with amphibians and reptiles in a talk from a CalAcademy herpetologist, April 23, at 10 a.m., live on the Academy's YouTube channel.
Things to See
- Virtual World Arcade has organized a climate change conference in VR with an impressive line-up of speakers, panelists, and participants. Though the programming is accessible with any screen, VR equipment is encouraged.
- Tune into a live storytelling slam with Climate Generation and hear personal stories about climate change and community.