BHL & Earth Optimism 2020

graphic for the Earth Optimism

April 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Organizations around the world have commemorated the occasion by participating in the global Earth Optimism movement — an initiative spearheaded by the Smithsonian to “turn the conservation conversation from doom and gloom to optimism and opportunity”.

Throughout 2020, the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) and our partners are joining the movement by sharing conservation success stories from and made possible by the BHL collection. Follow our blog, Twitter, and Facebook to learn more about important contributors to and milestones in conservation history and to explore stories from researchers today who are using BHL to empower conservation work.

Graphic Caption: Portraits of important contributors to the conservation movement featured in the BHL Earth Optimism series. L to R: George Washington Carver; Anna Botsford Comstock; Richard Evans Schultes (center) with Salvador Chindoy (left), a renowned Kamëntsá healer from Sibundoy Valley of Colombia. The identity of the individual on the right is not recorded. Carver and Comstock photos public domain. Schultes photo courtesy of the Archives of the Economic Botany Library of Oakes Ames, Harvard University.

Book Collection

The Earth Optimism book collection features books authored by important contributors to the conservation movement. We’ll be sharing more about the individuals represented in the collection via the BHL Blog throughout 2020. Follow our Earth Optimism series to learn more.

View the Earth Optimism book collection.

What is Earth Optimism?

Spearheaded by the Smithsonian, Earth Optimism focuses on sharing and expanding conservation success stories. According to the Earth Optimism website:

The global conservation movement has reached a turning point. We have documented the fast pace of habitat loss, the growing number of endangered and extinct species, and the increasing speed of global climate change. Yet while the seriousness of these threats cannot be denied, there are a growing number of examples of improvements in the health of species and ecosystems, along with benefits to human well-being, thanks to our conservation actions. Earth Optimism celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution, from a sense of loss to one of hope, in the dialogue about conservation and sustainability.


As the Smithsonian shared on Earth Day 2020:

At this difficult and unprecedented time, we're sharing stories of #EarthOptimism: what's working to protect the future of our planet. By focusing on successes in conservation and sustainability, we can find inspiration even in the face of immense challenges.


Among the stories of solutions is improved access to the biodiversity data that empowers conservation efforts—data like that contained in the scientific literature freely available in BHL. Free and open access to this literature provides researchers with the information they need to study and conserve biodiversity, and that's why we at BHL are Earth Optimists.

Organizations around the world have joined the movement to share their own stories of hope and optimism, and we are proud to participate via our blog and social media to share conservation success stories — past and present.

Want more Earth Optimism?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Earth Optimism Summit scheduled for April 2020 was reimagined as a digital event. On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day 2020, the Earth Optimism digital event showcased stories of both small and large-scale actions, framing the conversation and demonstrating that success is possible. Visit the Earth Optimism website to explore the 2020 Digital Summit.