22 April 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. This annual event historically sees millions of people unite across the globe with marches, events and outdoor activities; mobilising the movement to protect our planet, our home.
This year is different. Much of the world’s population is in lockdown. As COVID-19 spreads, we are poignantly reminded how fragile we are as a species, and that we are not immune to global threats.
Now more than ever, we need to come together and take action to address these challenges. Whilst tackling the pandemic, we must also not forget that climate change represents one of the greatest dangers to humanity’s ultimate life support, planet Earth.
Undefeated by social isolation, Earth Day gives us the perfect opportunity to still connect and engage with others. The movement has rallied together to bring us 24 hours of digital action, Earth Day Live. With live streamed discussions, performances and “teach-ins”, we can still reach out, take part, and champion hope for the future.
Five ways to take part in Earth Day
1. Tune in
Make the most of the virtual events and tune in to follow the day’s activities. With an impressive line-up of supporters for the global movement, from environmental advocates to actors and musicians, you can watch all the action on the Earth Day homepage.
2. Increase your knowledge
With so many Earth Day themed resources online, now is the perfect time to go exploring and acquire new knowledge, discovering ideas and inspiration on why and how to make a difference. We are never too old for some home schooling. #EarthDayAtHome with NASA also has plenty of activities for all ages including podcasts, quizzes, toolkits and Q&A sessions with scientists. Watch the WWF video with David Attenborough explaining how we can help save the planet.
3. Become a citizen scientist
The Earth Challenge 2020 app has launched, giving us all the opportunity to contribute to global environmental research. Initially focusing on two issues, air quality and plastic pollution, the app will expand over the coming months to include water quality, local climate impacts and food security. Capturing data and images, we can learn about nature in our local community, and play a crucial role in helping scientists monitor and mitigate environmental threats on a global level.
4. Change some habits – and not just for a day
Take time to consider which habits and behaviours you have changed during lockdown, resulting in a positive impact on both your wellbeing and the environment. How can you adopt these long term and reshape your future footprint on the planet? Brainstorm ideas with others, research top tips and inspiration, and develop a list of personal goals to aim for. Get creative, from supporting and volunteering for campaigns and local charities, to upcycling and growing your own food, there is no shortage of small changes that together will make a big difference.
5. Speak up and share hope
Ultimately the most powerful action we can take is to share our stories on what we have learnt, changes we are making and the hope we feel for the future. By talking to friends, family, neighbours, and engaging with #EarthDay2020 conversations on social media, we can help encourage others to make a difference too. Just as our collective actions of self-isolation and supporting front-line workers can contribute to reducing the spread of COVID-19, we can stay united and continue to fight all global threats, including climate change. It’s time to take action to ensure the next 50 years, and beyond, are healthy and resilient for both people and planet.
What Is Earth Day?
The first Earth Day, held on April 22, 1970, was a unified response to an environment in crisis. Over 20 million Americans gathered to raise awareness of mankind’s role in protecting our natural world from human activity, and to protest against environmental ignorance, at all levels of society.
Whilst the Earth Day Network started out as more of a political movement, over the years it has proliferated into a worldwide, non-profit organisation that provides civic engagement opportunities at local, national and global levels, as well as consistently promoting their vision of a zero-carbon future. You can read more about their notable and hard-fought victories here.