US climate activists to livestream Earth Day due to virus

As the coronavirus causes shut-downs across the U.S., a coalition of youth-led organizations that had planned massive marches for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day next month are now planning a three-day livestream event instead, organizers said Tuesday.

“Earth Day Live” will happen April 22-24 and will include speakers, voter registration, protests against financial institutions that support the fossil fuel industry, and entertainment. The event will be accessible on computers and mobile devices in the hopes that it will encourage engagement and action among people who are secluded at home and who may have planned to march in Washington and other places.

“It’s a time to really rethink our strategy,” said Katie Eder, the 20-year-old executive director of the Future Coalition, one of nine youth-led organizations that are coordinating the event. “We are really looking at this as a way to reimagine what a social movement can look like in a digital age.”

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The first Earth Day, the brainchild of the late Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, happened in 1970 and sparked an environmental movement that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and many laws to protect water, air and wildlife.

While led by youth organizations, including the Sunrise Movement, Zero Hour and Amazon Watch, the invent is intended to be intergenerational, with an eye on building on momentum from a massive global climate march in September.

Members of these groups said they are very much focused on the crisis at hand — the coronavirus — but they say climate change also will affect vulnerable populations the most.

“It’s not just about the environment and the climate,” said 17-year-old Naina Agrawal-Hardin, of the Sunrise Movement. “It’s also about building a society and an economy that’s going to take care of the people who’ve been affected by this crisis, the people who are on the front lines of this crisis, whether that’s through health care efforts or economic efforts.”