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Pope Francis delivers a blessing to an empty St. Peter's Square on April 13. Vatican Pool / Vatican Media / Vatican Pool via Getty Images

"We have sinned against the earth," Pope Francis said in a forceful Earth Day message Wednesday that reinforced the religious leader's commitment to environmental action.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

People observing Earth Day on April 20, 1970 in New York, New York. Santi Visalli / Getty Images

By Amanda Paulson

When Denis Hayes decided to join an environmental teach-in, he had no idea he was about to help launch a movement that would endure for half a century.

The year was 1969 and "there were things that were ripping America apart," Mr. Hayes recalls. He was a student at Harvard University and headed to Washington to offer help to Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who was planning the first Earth Day, scheduled for April 22, 1970.

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An environmental protester stands on top of the Wall Street Bull on October 17, 2019 in NYC. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Bill McKibben

Nineteen-seventy was a simpler time. (February was a simpler time too, but for a moment let's think outside the pandemic bubble.)

Simpler because our environmental troubles could be easily seen. The air above our cities was filthy, and the water in our lakes and streams was gross. There was nothing subtle about it. In New York City, the environmental lawyer Albert Butzel described a permanently yellow horizon: "I not only saw the pollution, I wiped it off my windowsills."

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In a special message for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day Wednesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the world to respond to the immediate crisis caused by the new coronavirus in a way that also solves the climate crisis.

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April 22 is Earth Day, but this year's celebration will be a little different from Earth Days past. Colin Anderson / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

Tomorrow is Earth Day, but this year's celebration will be a little different from Earth Days past as coronavirus social distancing measures make outdoor gatherings impossible.

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Environmental activists holding cilantro attend a protest in Zucotti Park on Earth Day on April 22, 2014 in New York City. John Moore / Getty Images

The devastating reality of the coronavirus pandemic has increased people's hunger for good news, as The New York Times reported April 14, leading to significant increases in Google searches and follower counts for good news accounts. Just in time, Covering Climate Now (CCNow) is here to meet that need with a week of coverage devoted to climate solutions.

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A display commemorates the 25th Earth Day in Washington, DC on April 22, 1995. Jeffrey Markowitz / Sygma via Getty Images

This April 22, Earth Day turns 50.

The world's largest secular holiday approaches its golden anniversary in the shadow of two global crises. This year's day is dedicated to climate action, and the celebration has moved online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Earth Day has a history of uniting people around the world to solve the major problems facing our planet. Here's a look back on some of the most important Earth Days in the celebration's 50-year history and what they helped accomplish.

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By Ken Kimmell

The COVID-19 crisis has upended the world, threatening the health and lives of millions, shattering the global economy, and imposing an unprecedented physical isolation upon us. It has changed so much almost overnight, including how we advocate for action on an even bigger long-term threat — climate change.

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The "Earthrise" photograph that inspired the first Earth Day. NASA / Bill Anders

For EcoWatchers, April usually means one thing: Earth Day. But how do you celebrate the environment while staying home to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus?

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A child playing with a ball from planet earth during Extinction Rebellion rally on April 18 in London, England. Brais G. Rouco / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

Earth Day 2019 just passed, but planning has already begun for Earth Day 2020, and it's going to be a big deal.

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'Morning In The Mighty Redwoods.' David Ruddock

Today is Earth Day, which means it is also the moment you have all been waiting for: The moment when EcoWatch announces the winner of our second-ever photo contest!

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Wandering Albatrosses on Prion Island, South Georgia Island, Antarctica. Paul Souders / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images Plus

The theme for today's Earth Day is "Protect Our Species," so Google has gotten in on the celebration with a doodle that celebrates the amazing biodiversity of life on earth.

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fstop123 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.

To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.

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