Voices for Action

How EDF Action’s Climate Team Celebrated Earth Day

April 22, 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day – fifty years of people coming together to celebrate the planet we live and depend upon. Fifty years of recognizing the importance of clean air, clean water and a healthy environment. Fifty years of advocating for our elected leaders and businesses to do what is right for our economy without harming our environment.

Over the years, this activism has allowed so much progress to be made – we could fill books with the names of countless ecosystems that have been saved, the studies forecasting the thousands of lives saved, and the economic models showing how environmental safeguards have led to a stronger economy. However, it is worth highlighting a few examples, like the fact that we no longer emit the neurotoxin lead from our cars, the success of the Endangered Species Act and the emergence of a vibrant clean energy industry.

On a monumental anniversary, we also have the opportunity to reflect on the challenges we face moving forward, chief among those climate change. While the coronavirus is affecting everyone’s life in different ways, it required the environmental movement to shift how we celebrate Earth Day and our planet at large. People from all over the country came together to safely advocate for a healthy environment.

EDF Action’s Climate Team did their part this Earth Day to stay safe while advocating for our environment by organizing digital events in Iowa, South Carolina, Florida and Arizona to empower people, partner with local groups and  build grassroots support for bold climate solutions, like a 100% clean future. The core of EDF Action’s Climate Team are our four amazing organizers: Mary Linn in Florida, Manuel Gutierrez in Arizona, Sydney Kesler in South Carolina and Jeremy Bernstein in Iowa. We wanted to highlight the great work they are doing and share with you, in their words, the importance of Earth Day and a clean energy future.

Mary Linn, EDF Action Florida

Making sure everyone knew to wear yellow, Mary Linn and EDF Action Florida hosted a solar happy hour for Earth Day. She kept the event lively with a guitar player and a toast to the sun. They also learned from Mary Dipboye from Solar United Neighbors of Florida, who discussed how solar co-ops are forming in Central Florida.

Mary Linn remarked on why she is so passionate about her work and what we must do, saying that, “The fight for 100% clean energy is important to me because I love to be outside in nature. Let’s kayak down the crystal clear springs of Florida filled with manatees, let’s hike in Seminole State Forest that was bought to connect Florida black bear habitat, and let’s keep the air clean for our lungs so we can bike coast to coast in Florida.” She also expressed gratitude for the work of past environmental advocates saying, “Thank you to those who protected these places 50 years ago and started Earth Day.  I promise to do the same for the next generation so they too can celebrate 50 more years of Earth Day!”

Manuel Gutierrez, EDF Action Arizona

Manuel Gutierrez knows the importance of empowering people by holding conversations on the topic and giving out relevant information that will help them be better advocates.

Manuel talked about how Earth Day “provides us an opportunity to foster action and conversations. It allows us to mobilize our community to make a difference. Even though today we cannot take to the streets in person and fight for climate action, we can make our voices heard loud and clear.” He continued, “Earth Day is important because every year is a good reminder that we need to do more for our planet and our community. The fight for 100% clean energy is so important because we only have one planet and we have to act now to save and protect it.”

To keep his community informed, Manuel set up a digital event to educate people about what organizations in Arizona are taking action against climate change.

Sydney Kesler, EDF Action South Carolina

In South Carolina, EDF Action partnered with Conservation Voters of South Carolina, Citizens Climate Lobby and Audubon South Carolina on a climate and solar energy webinar. The event featured College of Charleston professor Norman Levine, Stacey Washington from the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff and Tyson Grinstead from the company SunRun. Attendees got to learn about how climate change is impacting South Carolinians, solar energy and the importance of a clean energy future.

Sydney stressed that same message saying, “Earth Day gives us the chance to honor the space we inhabit and to mobilize for its protection. A clean energy economy means doing right by Earth and preserving a space for future generations to come.”

Jeremy Bernstein, EDF Action Iowa

Americans for Democratic Action Iowa, EDF Action, and the Cedar Prairie Sierra Club joined together for a virtual Earth Day town hall. Panelists included Kamyar Enshayan-Director of the UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Education, who discussed changing habits and culture to improve the climate. Clark Porter, a family farmer and watershed advocate, discussed regenerative farming and watershed management. Our very own Jeremy Bernstein discussed climate preparedness, taking action and encouraging folks to share their climate story.

Jeremy shared why he’s passionate about the environment and taking climate action saying, “Right here in Iowa, we are already starting to see the disastrous impacts that climate change is having. Heavy downpour events in Iowa have increased by 28% on average since 1950, and we have already seen two hundred-year floods in the last thirty years. By 2050, Iowa’s inland flooding threat is projected to increase by about 20%. And our leaders in DC are only making things worse, as the Trump administration has been rolling back environmental protections and progress on climate for years.” 

And he’s encouraging others to get involved and share their climate story. He noted that, “This year, we’re organizing a massive movement right here in Iowa to show strong support for climate action and encourage our leaders to be champions in this space. The stakes—for our air, our water, our families’ health, and the planet—have never been higher.”

These were just some of the number of Earth Day events that happened across the country as people gathered to celebrate our planet, stand up for the environment and advocate for bold solutions to climate change. You can join our EDF Action family here.