I’m a day late to officially celebrate Earth Day, but really, shouldn’t every day be Earth Day? We do our best to make that true. Part of our mission at The Conversation is to publish research-based articles by scientific experts on the many aspects of our global climate crisis – including offering ideas on how all of us can be part of the solution.

The first Earth Day was held in the U.S. in 1970 and it is often seen as the birth of the modern environmental movement (although this year marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s bestseller Silent Spring, which introduced many to the concept of how pollution impacts public health).

The environmental movement has always had a political element to it, but like so many other things in our society today, the issue has become severely polarized. As a reporter in Washington in the early 1990s, I covered the lengthy legislative battles to amend the U.S. Clean Air Act that were intended to reduce acid rain. This led to the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement, a transboundary initiative that came about with a Conservative government in Ottawa (Brian Mulroney) and a Republican administration in Washington (George Bush Sr.). It’s hard to imagine something like that happening under similar circumstances these days.

At a time of year when many Canadians are reacquainting themselves with the great outdoors, I’ve assembled some recent Earth Day-themed stories from the global network of The Conversation – as well as a few still-relevant reads from our archives.


I also wanted to draw your attention to an event next Thursday. Our colleague Jabulani Sikhakhane, editor of The Conversation Africa, will be part of the Global Journalism Innovation Lab's upcoming Spring Speaker Series: Communicating Complexity. You can sign up for this free virtual event here.

Hosted by our research partners at the University of British Columbia, University of Ottawa, Queensland University of Technology, and The Creative School Catalyst at Ryerson University, the series will consider how explanatory journalism can continue to fulfill its essential public role in the 21st century.

Have a great weekend and we’ll be back in your Inbox on Monday.

Scott White

CEO | Editor-in-Chief

Weekend Reads

Climate may not directly drive conflict but it’s critical for building peace

Grazia Pacillo, CGIAR System Organization; Ana Maria Loboguerrero, CGIAR System Organization; Elisabeth Gilmore, Carleton University; Peter Läderach, CGIAR System Organization; Tanaya Dutta Gupta, CGIAR System Organization

Under certain conditions, climate can amplify security risks, with implications for lasting peace.

Is it possible to heal the damage we have already done to the Earth?

Scott Denning, Colorado State University

The Earth is a resilient planet, but people are altering it in ways that may take centuries to reverse.

The First Earth Day: A look to the past offers hope for the planet’s future

Philippe Tortell, University of British Columbia

When the current crisis passes, we must seize the opportunity to re-imagine, and to create, a different kind of future.

Earth Day: The roots of our current environmental crisis go back 12,000 years

Joshua Sterlin, McGill University

As we debate the proposals for what the world after the virus should look like, it is crucial that we understand the roots of what got us here.

Respect for Indigenous knowledge must lead nature conservation efforts in Canada

Rachel Buxton, Carleton University; Andrea Reid, University of British Columbia; Joseph Bennett, Carleton University; Paul A. Smith, Carleton University

To combat the biodiversity crisis, we need to fundamentally shift our economy and society and make nature conservation the norm.

Colonialism: why leading climate scientists have finally acknowledged its link with climate change

Harriet Mercer, University of Cambridge

The IPCC’s latest climate report discusses how colonialism has shaped climate, a breakthrough for the climate justice movement.

How to meet the ambitious target of conserving 30 per cent of Earth by 2030

Matthew Mitchell, University of British Columbia

New approaches are required for Canada to meet its current conservation goals.

Venus was once more Earth-like, but climate change made it uninhabitable

Richard Ernst, Carleton University

A severe climate change event on Venus may have transformed an Earth-like climate to the current uninhabitable-to-humans state.

Slow fashion: saving the planet with style

Jack Marley, The Conversation

Rather than follow fleeting trends, find your own sense of eco-friendly style.

The pandemic’s gardening boom shows how gardens can cultivate public health

Alessandro Ossola, University of California, Davis

As lockdowns went into effect in the spring of 2020, many people took up gardening as a coping mechanism. But will a hobby born out of a crisis recede as life returns to normal?

The Conversation Weekly podcast

How culture informs people’s emotional reaction to music – podcast

Daniel Merino, The Conversation

From the archive: researchers visited the remote Kalash valleys to investigate how the concept of ‘happy’ and ‘sad’ music differs across cultures. Listen to The Conversation Weekly podcast.