Earth Day 2020 celebration pushes through despite restrictions

Photo from APoD – NASA 2013

Planet Earth is taking a wonderful pause. A moment to breathe and savor the quiet as the world of humanity considers how to protect and conserve it.

Earth Day 2020, the 50th year since its observance began in 1970, may well be remembered alongside a worldwide plague named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Despite all the confusion, anxiety and worry that the corona virus disease COVID-19 has brought upon mankind, one valuable lesson was learned: something good could come from a bad experience.

When COVID-19 hit the countries across the globe, the safest measure to stop the local transmission of the virus is community quarantine or commonly called “lockdown.” Along with such move, it put restrictions on people’s movement and thus, closed down malls, shops and even stopped mass transportation.

Without mobile smoke emissions, the air got cleansed. From China to Europe, satellite images ofthe National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shows an Earth without the usual pollution coming from the mobile emissions. The same picture of a cleansed air was seen in cities across Asia and other continents. It’s some kind of a pause, a healing for the Earth.

“Unwittingly, our imposed inaction – the non-mobility of humans for fear of transmitting the invisible enemy demanded by lockdown policies – was a tangible support to this year’s Earth Day theme: Climate Action,” according to Francisco E. Milla, Jr., regional executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of Region 6.

“With this, we experienced clean air in Iloilo City and elsewhere in the country. The clean air experience was especially felt in highly urbanized cities, a thing we cannot achieve if we continue with the usual routine of traffic and human activities,” Milla added.

In its golden year, the Earth Day celebration goes digital. No matter if we are homebound as the need to stop the plague, there are good reasons to celebrate it at home and do our share for climate action. Our action on climate change had been identified as the most pressing topic for Earth Day’s 50th year.

On April 22, 2020,, the official Earth Day website, will launch the EarthRise which is a global digital mobilization that shall drive actions – big or small. It shall give diverse voices a platform and demands bold action for people and planet.

One unavoidable fact is that both human health and planetary health are inextricably linked. Protecting the health of the Earth is protecting our health as well. Back in 1970, millions have rallied behind that idea and thus, gave birth to the first Earth Day. Fifty years since then, and now facing this pandemic, we must rally behind it again.

In the Philippines, Earth Day was celebrated by virtue of Proclamation No. 1481 signed on April 10, 2008.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu kept reminding employees and Filipinos in general to always do small things for the good of the environment. “Protecting the environment is not the sole responsibility of the DENR. Everybody should do their part,” Cimatu said. (DENR-6)