Why Earth Day Isn’t Working

Note: This is an excerpt from “Earth Day 2020: Fifty Years of Not Enough” by Paul Feather. You can read the entire article at Deep Green Resistance News Service.


“This year, the Earth Day Network is going digital. We are unable to gather during quarantine, so we will gather in the virtual world … on Earth Day… Seriously?

“I am reminded of something from the book Becoming Animal, in which David Abrams pushes back against the conventional symbolism of environmentalism embodied in the image of the whole Earth from space. Supposedly, this symbol conveys the isolation of our fragile and finite planet in an otherwise inhospitable space. Since Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth movement succeeded in introducing this image to the environmental movement in 1970, it has become one of the most familiar and widely distributed images in history—inseparable from Earth Day. Abrams suggests that there are ways in which this image is unhelpful. When we are asked to imagine the Earth, we imagine this view from space—from outside. As a phenomenologistAbrams suggests that our perception and imagery of the Earth should remain rooted in our physical and bodily experience. The Earth is what you see before you in this moment, right now.

“Is it good then that we respond to this quarantine by moving our environmentalism online into the virtuality of screens and digital interactions with far-away humans? Or is this a call to usher that movement through the front door, to invite it in, or listen as it calls us out through that door and into the yard and the streets? What would happen if we turned the screens off? What would happen if we went outside and felt the snap of blackberry winter? What would happen if we dusted out the backwoods of our DNA for remnants of remembering of being alone in a wild place, or found one and went there? Would we be braver? Would we become more galvanized and bold?”

Published by John Halstead

John Halstead is the author of *Another End of the World is Possible*, in which he explores what it would really mean for our relationship with the natural world if we were to admit that we are doomed. John is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion and lives in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago. He is a co-founder of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which worked to organize resistance to the fossil fuel industry in the Region. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.” He strives to live up to the challenge posed by the Statement through his writing and activism. John has written for numerous online platforms, including Patheos, Huffington Post, PrayWithYourFeet.org, and Gods & Radicals. He is Editor-at-Large of HumanisticPaganism.com. John also facilitates climate grief support groups climate grief support groups affiliated with the Good Grief Network.

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