This Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day.

Before covid-19 stopped the world turning, environmental activists were working hard to make 2020 the next big Earth Day, with demonstrations and school strikes planned internationally. The Earth Day Network of environmental organisations was aiming to mobilise 1bn people world-wide. Now the campaign is being taken online with a raft of seminars, speeches and livestreams. António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, will make a speech in which he is expected to argue for green-tinged post-covid economic recovery packages. Denis Hayes, who, as a university student, co-ordinated the first Earth Day, has made a plea for Americans to stay at home on Wednesday but to get out and “vote for the Earth” in November’s presidential election.

The Economist is launching its own climate initiative this week. The edition we are currently working on will include the first in a series of six Climate Briefs. They are aimed at school pupils keen to deepen their understanding of the issues. But we hope they will be of interest to readers of all ages. The first will be on the politics of climate change and how they have evolved over the decades. Subsequent briefs will cover everything from the fundamentals of climate science to how climate models work, and options for living in a changed world. At a time when our senses are constantly assaulted by what we at The Economist have come to call “covidery”, we hope that the climate briefs will offer some welcome brain-food of another type entirely.


Catherine Brahic

Environment Editor