What was supposed to be a landmark, weekend-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day ​— ​the environmentally minded holiday that was inspired in part by the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969 ​— ​is now just another event canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Curiously, though, as millions around the world hunker down and worry about the novel coronavirus, the planet ​— ​at least the part beyond humankind ​— ​seems to be doing better. You can see the Himalayas from urban India for the first time in a generation, Los Angeles boasts some of the cleanest air on the planet, and wild critters are reclaiming Yosemite National Park. These changes are almost certainly fleeting, but they do suggest that humans can make meaningful change in a relatively short period of time.

For this week’s issue, after four straight weeks of dedicated COVID-19 coverage, the Santa Barbara Independent is back to presenting a more traditional cover story package. Yes, the following stories are mostly connected to the coronavirus, but we’re using Earth Day as a good time to reflect on what we can learn from this pandemic to empower the battle against climate change.

We’ve also collected some ways for you to enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of your home. And in celebration of the April 22 holiday, the Community Environmental Council is hosting a virtual concert with some of Santa Barbara’s most famous faces.

How COVID-19 Could Help Us Get Through the Climate Crisis

Coronavirus Pandemic: A Symptom of Our Mass Extinction

Backyard Birding Really Helps Being Stuck at Home

Celebrating Mother Earth Virtually

Join the Earth Day Challenge