The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, kicked off the modern environmental movement with more than 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population — hitting the streets to demand action against unchecked pollution.
Now in its 51st year, the event has transformed into a global movement with participation by more than 1 billion people across 192 countries. This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth,” emphasizing the importance of enlisting natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking to restore ecosystems.
Last year, on its 50th anniversary, California EPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld said Earth Day has had "a major impact on policy.”
“Back in 1970, we didn't have the Clean Air Act, we didn't have the Clean Water Act, we didn't have any federal legislation, really, relating to the environment," he said. "And people went out on the streets, made their voices heard.”
This year Earth Day will be mainly virtual again. But with the Bay Area slowly opening up, there are some in-person options, too. Just remember to mask up and social distance. Below are a few, mostly Bay Area events to put on your radar:
Earth Day Vertical Dance Rehearsal Outdoors
April 22 – 4-5 p.m., Oakland, In-Person Event
Celebrate Earth Day with aerial dance company BANDALOOP and special guests as the group unveils excerpts from its newest work, LOOM, weaving performance, research and education around the ancestral power and ecological impacts of textiles past, present and future. Event highlights include: Live music by Ben Juodvalkis, Chibueze Crouch, and Charles Peoples III. Special guest speakers include eco-somatic dance artist and inaugural BANDALOOP Artist-In-Residence Jes DeVille, and Phoenix Armenta from the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.
California Academy of Sciences
NightSchool: Earth Day for the People
April 22 – 7 p.m., Free Virtual Event
Get inspired by people and organizations radically changing both the health of the environment and their communities through "greenprint" projects that focus on sustainable development, environmental justice, and remaking the food system. Featured speakers include: Elizabeth Hiroyasu, landscape scientist at The Nature Conservancy of California; Dr. Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta, assistant professor at the University of Arizona and director of Project Harvest; and Ashley Yates, media director for Planting Justice.
Chabot Space and Science Center
Earth Day Screening: Saving the Dark
April 23 – 7 p.m., Free Virtual Event
Enjoy a special screening and discussion of "Saving The Dark," a documentary about astronomy and light pollution. Event highlights include film producer Sriram Murali, joined by astronomers Richard Ozer and Gerald McKeegan, to discuss the costs of light pollution, including its effects on our health, wildlife and environment.
After Dark Online: Earth Day
April 22 – 7 p.m., Free Virtual Event
Discover the work of local organizations that expose inequitable impacts of climate change and advocate for environmental justice and legislation. Event highlights include: Conversations with youth leaders from Oakland-based Youth vs. Apocalypse and a virtual screening of the short film "My 25: The Ocean Between Us," a student film that merges memories and reality to tell an intimate story of how our oceans have changed.
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
Earth Day Events
Make a Monarch Butterfly Kite for Earth Day!
April 22 – 11 a.m.-12 p.m., Free Virtual Event
Join National Park Service Ranger Rebecca Au and Price Sheppy as they take you step by step through building your own monarch butterfly kite to fly on Earth Day. You will also hear stories about the monarch butterfly and find out more about what you can do to help these beautiful animals.
Monitoring Frogs in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
April 23 – Noon-1:30 p.m., Free Virtual Event
Learn about the common and uncommon frogs you can see in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Join the conversation and find out about efforts to reintroduce and monitor the California red-legged frog, a threatened population in the park.
International Ocean Film Festival (IOFF)
Earth Day Drive-in Screening at Fort Mason Center For Arts & Culture
April 22 – 8:30-10:30 p.m. Tickets Required, $49 Per Vehicle
IOFF is presenting a special screening of two of its 2021 award-winning films, "Ocean Souls" and "Whales in a Changing Ocean." This screening is part of the 18th annual IOFF taking place virtually through May 2, showcasing more than 80 independent films, representing 17 countries, reflecting IOFF’s mission of restoring, protecting and balancing ocean biodiversity through independent films. If you can't make it to the drive-in, these films are also screening virtually. Check out this year’s festival schedule at IntlOceanFilmFest.org
On Common Ground: Hyper-Local Climate Resilience
April 22 – 6 p.m., Free Virtual Event
Many people can adapt to climate change via migration, but for some, adaptation means finding the solutions to remain in place. KQED’s senior science editor, Katrin Snow, will moderate a conversation on how resiliency takes hold on a local level in two very different locations, Marin City and the Sierra Nevada. Special guests include: Terrie Harris-Green of Shore Up Marin City; Beth Rose Middleton Manning, professor and department chair of the Native American Studies Department at UC Davis; and guest reporter Janelle Marie Salanga, engagement reporting intern at the College Journalism Network.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Earth Day 2021
April 21-23 – Multiday, Free Virtual Events
When you think of NASA, you might think of astronauts and missions to Mars. But NASA also has a variety of missions that focus on studying Earth, from sea level rise to hurricanes. NASA’s three-day Earth Day virtual event extravaganza features: Live presentations and chats with NASA Earth science experts; an interactive kid-friendly science fun zone with coloring and activity sheets; and Meet a Scientist videos. Plus, you can find out how you can be a scientist for NASA. There’s also an online scavenger hunt to kick off #GrowForLaunch, a chance to learn about plants grown in space and how you can start your own “space” garden.
Earth Day Events
April 22-25 – 10 a.m.-3:30p.m., Timed Tickets Required, $24-$20, Free Virtual Activities
Celebrate animals and the planet and learn how to take action against the illegal wildlife trade. All guests must reserve a ticket for a specific date and entry time. Event highlights include an in-person scavenger hunt that will focus on animals that need saving from illegal wildlife trade. The zoo also has several online activities to help you act for the planet from the comfort of your own home, such as learning what plants attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
The David Brower Center
Wild and Scenic Film Festival Earth Day 2021
April 22 – 7 p.m., Tickets Required, General $25, Student $15, Group Rates Available
The Wild and Scenic Film Festival, organized by Citizens Climate Lobby Alameda County, the David Brower Center, Earth Island Institute, Green the Church, and Communities for a Better Environment, is hosting a virtual Earth Day screening with films that tell extraordinary stories of local and global front-line communities fighting for environmental justice and restoration. After the live event on the 22nd, all films will be available on-demand from April 23-27. Included with every ticket is an on-demand bonus session featuring five films about threatened wildlife and efforts to protect their habitats and save them from extinction. Get $5 off with this special code: WSFFDBC.
Check your local event listings for additional Earth Day related community events in your neighborhood. And be sure to bookmark bayareascience.org for year-round science and environment events and festivals. Below is a reminder of a few things you can do to make every day Earth Day, courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.