Earth Day 2020

Dear students, faculty and staff,

When I began with the first draft of this message, the Earth was a much different place. We had just seen the first effects of the novel coronavirus reach the U.S., and had started preparing to respond. By now, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire world. People everywhere are coping with various levels of success and tragedy, and the U.S. has experienced more deaths than any other country. There are not many conditions that can demonstrate so profoundly that we are all connected.

In the midst of these extraordinary circumstances, there have been moments of light. I have watched the videos of people clapping or singing every night from the windows and balconies of Wuhan, Rome, Madrid, New York and here in Chicago, in support of their health care workers, but also in a clear statement that life will go on. In communities across the world, people are coming together for the common good, in ways large and small, but all meaningfully.

We have also seen incredible images documenting how quickly the quality of air and water has improved over much of the world from Punjab to Venice and beyond. This is a stark reminder that our environmental problems can be reversible and our world can be much more beautiful than most of us have experienced in our lifetimes. This could be a great motivation to develop the technological solutions needed in order to achieve the same outcomes, while protecting our financial wellbeing.

Earth Day was created in 1970 from a massive student-led social movement to combat water and air pollution. Today, this movement is more important than ever before, and our Office of Planning, Sustainability and Project Management has continued this year with its strong efforts in support of our desire to become a clean water, carbon neutral and more bio-diverse institution. I urge you to visit the updated Earth Day website, which now includes our virtual Earth Day plans. Earth Day is an opportunity to reflect on the complex beauty of our planet and its life-supporting ecosystems, but also to plan and act accordingly, as we continue to do our part to work toward our collective vision of a sustainable and equitable planet.

For now, I urge you to stay well and be safe, while you continue to be informed and active!


Michael D. Amiridis

For more information, please contact:
Steven Marton

Cindy Klein Banai

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