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Pandemic Moves Most Arizona Earth Day Events onto Cyberspace

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Monday, April 20, 2020   

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is coming up this week, but Arizonans and others will not be marking the occasion in the usual way.

The pandemic and social distancing have forced most of the events to go online. But organizers say their original intent - to spur people into action - has not changed.

Sandy Bahr, director at the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, said despite the changes, people still can connect and take action on climate, clean air and water.

"Earth Day is an important time to remind people about the important environmental protections that we have and that we need to keep them, and we need to keep them in force," Bahr siad.

Bahr said dozens of events are planned on Wednesday and all week by groups such as Moms Clean Air Force of Arizona, the Arizona Youth Climate Coalition and the cities of Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, among others.

One group participating in Arizona and across the country is the Union of Concerned Scientist, which will be coordinating with the Youth Climate Coalition and similar groups to push for action on climate change.

Ken Kimmell is national president of the science federation.

"It's coming at such an important moment. We have this horrible pandemic. All of our attention is focused on that right now," Kimmell said. "But the pandemic teaches us some very powerful lessons that apply just as forcefully to climate change."

Kimmell said his group is solidly behind what young people across the country are doing to fight climate change, particularly at a time when they face unprecedented obstacles.

"I think they've done a tremendous job harnessing this new technology, the Zooms, the inter-connectedness online to try to keep climate activism going, to pull us all together, to have us in the same boat, rowing in the same direction," he said.

The first Earth Day was observed on April 22nd, 1970, in response to dire warnings by scientists and others that pollution was destroying the planet. Since then, Earth Day celebrations have become an annual rite of spring across the U.S. and around the world.



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