Students at the University of Oregon and Lane Community College hold Earth Day 2020 Virtual Rally

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 22, 2020                               

CONTACT: Eliza Garcia, OSPIRG, [email protected], 541-378-8825

The Oregon Students Public Interest Group (OSPIRG) held a virtual Earth Day 50th Anniversary Rally. On Wednesday, April 22nd at 3:00 p.m. PST, the virtual rally helped in gathering support to progress on environmental issues with speakers, chanting, live music, and slam poetry. OSPIRG hosted five events this week across the state. Nationally, the Student PIRGs educated and engaged students in over 50 events on Earth Day.

“The environmental movement has made important progress in the last 50 years, and young people have played a major part every step of the way,” said Elizabeth Radcliffe, ‘21, OSPIRG Chapter Chair. “Between the climate crisis, massive bee die-offs, and the plastic crisis, our generation faces some of the biggest global environmental challenges yet.”

As city councilmember Emily Semple said about the COVID-19 crisis and climate crisis, “We have to work together, and together we can get through this, so you know this crisis, our climate, we’re practicing, we’re getting those networks, and we’re showing that we can make a change.”

The event had over fifty individuals in attendance, from community members, activists, faculty, and speakers. The speakers at the rally were Eugene city Councilmember Emily Semple, faculty member at LCC Daniel Henry, who also teaches an activist boot camp in Alaska, Climate scientist Zach Brown, OSPIRG’s Laney Baehler, and Environment America’s 100% Campuses campaign director Bronte Payne. Local Eugene musician Beka Pierron played music at the event, and there was moving slam poetry by Tyler Coomes. Chants of “The people gonna rise like the water, we’re gonna stop this crisis now” and “We are unstoppable, another world is possible” were shouted encouragingly by the speakers to raise spirits.

The first Earth Day in 1970 mobilized millions of Americans and helped launch the modern environmental movement. Amidst a global pandemic, young people continue to lead the movement with innovative digital events, championing a vision of clean air, clean water, and protected open spaces. Students across the country are remotely learning from their homes, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t engaging their communities around protecting the environment.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of only addressing one crisis at a time,” said Eliza Garcia, ‘23, Member of 100% Renewable Energy Campaign. “With less than a decade to solve global warming the Environmental Protection Agency has loosened car efficiency standards and suspended enforcement of key provisions of our nation’s environmental laws. Now more than ever, we need young people to act.”