CELDF

50 Years of Earth Day – What Are We Celebrating?

A conversation on Rights of Nature and paradigm-shifting organizing

It’s a comforting thought, to think the law is on your side. For 50 years, environmentalists in the United States have celebrated Earth Day to mark the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. We celebrate the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, the Clean Water, and the Endangered Species acts.

But, there is a catch.

The laws we’ve been celebrating during Earth Day have failed to guard against mass species die-offs, the climate crisis, deadly air pollution, the corporatization of freshwater, and the largest loss of biodiversity in human history. The planet is on the verge of ecological collapse.

These environmental laws may have won narrow battles. But they are decisively losing the war.

“Environmental protection” is no more than an illusion that functions to permit and regulate harms to nature. It legalizes pollution.

After years of working within the regulatory system, CELDF and our partner communities made a radical shift to rights-based organizing. For over 20 years, we have been educating and working with communities to dismantle and replace this façade of protection with rights.

This has involved thousands of hours of workshops and trainings, combined with radical community lawmaking to recognize the rights of ecosystems and local communities.

After 50 years of Earth Day, awareness of system failure is accelerating. More people are recognizing from personal experience that our governing frameworks are not protecting ecosystems and human rights.

This year CELDF hosted an online Q&A with organizers who have been engaging communities across the country in paradigm-shifting work for decades. You can view the conversation below! To participate in the breakout sessions be sure to subscribe for notifications.

CELDF staff share their connection to this rights-based work and why an honest Earth Day conversation is so crucial. Watch their videos below.

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