April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, when more than 20 million Americans joined in actions to protect the environment — 10% of the U.S. population at the time.
Half a century later, in the middle of a pandemic, protests planned around the world have moved online, and the Trump administration has gutted the Environmental Protection Agency — established not long after Earth Day — rolled back fuel economy standards and eased the enforcement of pollution regulations.
“The countries that flattened the coronavirus curve early on are doing far better than those like ours, which delayed,” says Bill McKibben, author, educator, environmentalist and co-founder of 350.org.
“That’s a pretty perfect analog to the 30 years that we’ve wasted in the climate crisis.”
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