Today, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, our world is enveloped by the shadow of a global health crisis. As we work to flatten the curve and plan for greater resilience, we are mindful of another global crisis, looming with increasing urgency: climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that crises can arise suddenly, and they do not impact us equally. There is no silver lining in tragedy, but there is abundant opportunity in recovery. There is hope.
As we start to rebuild, we have an extraordinary opportunity to question business as usual - to reshape our future into a world that is healthy, regenerative, and equitable. In honor of the 50th Earth Day, as well as the 30th anniversary of the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE), we would like to share our “Top Ten” favorite sources of inspiration.
1. "Earth Day is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space."
- Margaret Mead
2. “Instead of rushing back to life as we knew it, let’s stop and think about the world we want to create instead.”
- Laura Nettleton, COVID-19: Dress Rehearsal for the Climate Crisis
3. “Addressing climate change doesn’t have to slow down the economic recovery…. In fact, it can push it forward.”
- Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Think This Pandemic is Bad? We Have Another Crisis Coming
4. “Perhaps global cooperation on COVID-19 can pave the way for progress on the even-greater challenge of climate change.”
- Alex Wilson, Earth Day's 50th Anniversary
5. “Just as imagination can mislead us, though, it will be imagination—scientific, civic, moral—that helps us find new ways of doing things, helps remind us of how far we have to go as a species.”
- Charles Yu, The Pre-pandemic Universe Was the Fiction
6. “From a society that has prized growth above all and been willing to play fast and loose with justice and ecology, we need to start emphasizing sturdiness, hardiness, resiliency.”
- Bill McKibben, How We Can Build a Hardier World After the Coronavirus
7. “What overlooked issues of today will become essential for designers a generation from now?”
- Lance Hosey, A Quiet Revolution: The Origins of Sustainable Design in the United States
8. “My greatest hope for the future is that we make 2020 the year of perfect vision and recognize climate change -- specifically global warming -- for the existential threat that it is, and launch a cultural revolution that makes the Earth cool again.”
- Bob Berkebile, FAIA / Founding Chair AIA Committee on the Environment, COTE Celebrates 30: Leaders Think Back and Look Forward
9. “As we acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we remain committed to design’s influence on climate action for human and ecological health.”
-Julie Hiromoto, AIA, 2020 Chair AIA Committee on the Environment. For 23 years AIA COTE Top Ten Awards have been recognized nationally for inspiring architecture that integrates design excellence and high performance.
10. “One site.
A looming deadline.
Seven and a half billion clients.
This is the ultimate design project.
This is why we’re here.”
- American Institute of Architects – Climate Action Plan