Earth Day 2020: Planet on the Brink

by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action L.A.

April 22, 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of the original “Earth Day” in 1970. It is a sad commentary that 50 years on, the earth system, and the lives of hundreds of millions of people, particularly people in the global South, people of  color, and poor and working people generally, are at greater risk and in greater peril than ever before in human history. Gains in environmental regulation to insure safe water, air and soil are being reversed. Threats such as global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and the operations of capitalist agribusiness and animal husbandry that were known at the time by the perpetrators, have been suppressed and denied for so long that we are facing climate chaos, rising sea levels, and mass extinctions.

Even as “Earth Day” has become a safe and sanitized chance for corporate green-washing and feel good exercises in beach and river clean-ups or tree-planting, the problem has gotten steadily worse. The annual volume of hydrocarbons being released into the atmosphere has increased by over 75% in the last two decades since the Kyoto Protocol made the first feeble efforts to curtail them.

The time for business as usual is over. Thankfully, around the world, climate strikes and rebellions are taking place with increasing frequency and urgency. The Swedish teen, Greta Thunberg (see her speech to the COP 24 “climate summit” about its abject failure to take the necessary steps) has sparked a youth uprising around the world. Community solutions are being undertaken everywhere as people recognize that the current political and economic elites have no serious plan or commitment to undertake the necessary steps to reverse the destruction and heal the damage that has already been done and will continue to be felt as a result of the cumulative impact of the emissions already released.

Native water and land protectors, Bolivian and Brazilian indigenous forest peoples, Extinction Rebellion, Sunrise Movement, Global Climate strikers, Green New Deal advocates, environmental justice activists and others are moving assertively and pro-actively to defend the planet and their own rights and sovereignty.

Earth Day 2020 will be an opportunity to struggle for revolutionary eco-socialist solutions to the problems that capitalism and colonialism have caused and have no way of solving. Locally in So Cal, there will be numerous actions, events and mobilizations. One significant effort is underway to build a coalition to bring 50,000 or more people to downtown LA for a sustainable celebratory and educational event, focused on a pledge to do what must be done over the coming critical decade, and starting immediately.

The organizers of Earth Day Greater LA, 2020 Clear Vision for Environmental Action describe their goal as follows: ” April 22, 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. As you know we are facing environmental crises greater than ever. Pollution and production processes that threaten life on this planet are projected to get worse. We must change this course. We must transform. Quickly and soundly. We are one aspect of a massive movement to impact public policy, transform lifestyles, and effect the systemic changes needed to address the crises. We are giving love, and we are receiving love. We are organizing a central gathering

event, Sunday, April 19th at Los Angeles Grand Park Civic Center with a goal of 50,000 people participating as part of the international Earth Day movement that plans to engage 1 billion people globally. You are invited to join a massive coalition for a historic event.” They are  hooked into a global Earth Day network and will be connecting volunteers with projects and organizations that need them.

This will be an unparalleled opportunity for presenting the case, and the path forward, for a revolutionary eco-socialist view for a just transition to a restorative, sustainable economy and way of life, which must be rooted in decolonization and an end to private ownership, expropriation and exploitation of land, water, air, human labor, living beings and life itself. But such views will only one approach among many that will be put forward. Our job must be to win people’s hearts, minds and energies to its necessity and practicability. Groups are invited to become co-sponsors by committing to the basic platform and values of the coalition, and by committing to working 5 shifts on the day of the event, Sun. Apr. 19. You can obtain the necessary co-sponsorship forms from the contact people listed below.

You are invited to attend the next planning meeting for Greater LA Earth Day 2020 Clear Vision for Environmental Action: Saturday, January 11, 9:00-11:00 a.m., at SEIU Local 721, on the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Union, just west of downtown. For more information, contact: Maribel Castillon <>, Keenan Sheedy <>, Madeline Di Giorgi <>, Lydia Ponce <>, Elijah Carder <>, or  Morey Wolfson <>.

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