Earth Day at 50: How Can We Use this Opportunity?

Dolly and Emma Ledin, WI Green Fire, April 23, 2020

Emma and Dolly Ledin cropped

This is a difficult Earth Day – perhaps the most difficult in the past 50 years. But it is only difficult for humans. There are many who are sick, who have lost loved ones, who don’t have a job, food, or a place to live.  For those of us who are merely inconvenienced by having our daily activities limited, we are not able to celebrate this special day as we might like – by gathering with others, by visiting a wild place, by sharing memories and hopes and dreams of how the earth should be.

But we have a unique opportunity this Earth Day. We have a chance to see what the earth might be like without us. We can see empty national parks and beaches and air (at least temporarily) cleaner than it’s been in decades.  And all of us can look out the window and see that spring is still arriving, trees are budding, migrating warblers are returning and the earth is surviving just fine without us.

This Earth Day gives us a unique opportunity to reflect on our impact – in a way we have never been able to before. How can we use this opportunity to make sure we don’t return to “business as usual?” The goal of that first Earth Day was much more than increasing appreciation for nature. It was to raise awareness and support for environmental protection. Let’s renew that commitment and maybe this will be the year, 50 years later, that we finally make that vision a reality.


Dolly Ledin is a retired UW Madison outreach coordinator/educator, now volunteering as the chair of Wisconsin’s Green Fire’s Education Work Group.

Emma Ledin graduated in Environmental Conservation and Education at the University of Minnesota. She is a student member of Wisconsin’s Green Fire.

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