Six Lessons to Remember During Earth Day

April 20, 2019
By Matt Schoch

Like us, you may be a little bit tired of constantly hearing "Winter is coming" when, in fact, Spring has already arrived. As the temperatures rise and the sunlight lasts longer into the evening, we begin the season of rebirth. Spring is an annual reminder of the beauty and magnificence of the Earth, but each April we take time to remind ourselves how fragile our planet is.

As Earth Day approaches on April 22, we have compiled some important takeaways from some of the incredible science, nature and public affairs programs that have aired on PBS.

It has been 49 years since the first Earth Day, and it's changed a lot.

So, what was that first Earth Day actually like? In this clip from American Experience's Earth Days (unfortunately, no longer available to stream on, you get a sense of how much the original protests were exactly that - protests. There were aspects of counter-culture, cries of a communist plot and even some smashed car windows. For better or worse, the modern Earth Day has a lot less raw emotion attached.

The rhetoric around climate change can be confusing, but we are seeing real changes to our climate.

While the debate around climate change continues to intensify, there is no debate that the Earth's weather has been changing -- and becoming less stable. This two-hour documentary, Decoding the Weather Machine, from NOVA, cuts through the debate to answer the key questions about climate change.

The divided politics around environmental legislation continue to be a challenge.

As we noted, political debate around climate change is nothing new, but in War on the EPA, FRONTLINE examines the increased politicization of the Environmental Protection Agency. The film centers around the leadership of the agency by Scott Pruitt, who formerly crusaded against the organization (and who has since left the position.) You'll get great insight into the rationale behind the nomination and the potential impacts to reverse Obama-era regulations.

We've solved a big atmospheric problem in the past and that success can provide a roadmap to tackle climate change.

Remember when the biggest environmental issue was the giant hole forming in the ozone layer? How come we don't hear anything about that anymore? As PBS Digital Studios' Hot Mess explains, it turns out the solution to the ozone layer can be a roadmap to solving climate change.

Planting a garden is a good way to celebrate Earth Day, and growing your own food can actually taste better.

Of course, Earth Day isn't just about scientific arguments and political controversy, its about taking action in our own lives to support the planet. One of the best ways to save energy, learn about your ecosystem and have fun is to plant a vegetable garden. Last Summer, Nourish from PBS Digital Studios and Louisiana Public Broadcasting, took a look at why so many people think that homegrown produce tastes better than what you can buy at the store.

The Earth is full of magnificent (and cute!) animals that deserve to be protected.

We're pretty sure it's impossible to publish an internet-generated list without at least one cat-centric item. Luckily, cats are a great reason to celebrate Earth Day. Earlier this season, NATURE released this video of kittens playing in the wild and we can't stop watching. The clip is part of the special 3-part Super Cats series, which aired last Fall. The full episodes are still available for PBS Passport members, but if these cuddly wild cats aren't enough to motivate you to care for our Earth, we're pretty sure nothing will work.

Bonus! Here are two more great science and nature programs to explore.

Our celebration of the Earth and nature does not stop on Earth Day, of course. We are PBS! So you are not going to want to miss these two programs: American Spring LIVE from PBS NATURE and Watershed from NET Nebraska and PBS.

American Spring LIVE will catch up with scientists in the field as they make real-time observations and discoveries about how longer days and warming temperatures trigger big changes in animals and plants. And it’s not all up to the experts. You can play a part too and become a citizen scientist in pursuit of critical data on the science of Spring. The show premieres (did we mention LIVE!) on April 29 at 8/7c.

Watershed explores one of America's major watersheds in 360 degrees and discover the important ways people are connected by water. This immersive web series demonstrates the essential work done to manage water across the country.
NET Nebraska and PBS


Explore one of America's major watersheds in 360 degrees and see how people's lives are affected by water.

Wanna binge out for Earth Day?

In this article, we've only reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes to high quality science and environmental programming on PBS. Want to take a true deep dive? Check out our Earth Day Watch List.

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