Today, from our locked down homes we can fire up a livestream and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
It’ll be a couch-parade of entertainers and activists dialing in performances and speeches. During Earth Day Live, we will acknowledge the Matryoshka stacking doll crises we’re in: a pandemic, an economic recession, the collapse of the environment, the threats to democracy, the rise of populism, and the widespread inequality in our lives.
Yet this is also a chance for hope. “Strike, divest and vote!” are the calls from the youth organizers.
I am with them. And I am also resolved to imagine and to create healthier alternatives. Because interwoven in this public health crisis and the climate crisis is another essential but deeply fraught system: the internet.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the coal furnaces have been firing and the oil barrels burning to keep up with our increased demand for connectivity. More than ever, we turn to the internet to socialize, to work, to inform, to buy, to entertain, to heal, to escape and to organize. The MIT Technology Review reports a surge in internet usage since January 2020. Even before this uptake, the internet accounted for 2% of the world’s carbon emissions.
The lockdowns underscore our reliance on the network. As we struggle now for the health of our communities, fueled by the dreams of an equitable future, we must also strive for an internet that is sustainable. Because we need it. Just as we need our health and equality and connectivity.
Tune into Earth Day Live this week for inspiration and action!