This Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual event celebrated by people around the globe on 22 April to demonstrate support for environmental protection.
History of Earth Day
The first Earth Day was in 1970, it brought together 20 million Americans to peacefully demonstrate for environmental reform. On the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990, celebrations went international with 200 million people in over 140 countries participating. Today more than 1 billion people worldwide are involved with Earth Day activities making it ‘the largest secular observance in the world’ according to Earth Day Network, a non-profit organisation that coordinates the events.
Earth Day annual theme
Every year Earth Day Network selects an environmental priority to engage the global public. For instance, in 2019, the Earth Day theme was ‘Protect Our Species’ as they wanted to elevate understanding and foster action to stop the decimation of species.
For Earth Day 2020 the theme is ‘Climate Action’ to raise awareness about ways to combat the climate crisis. They believe climate change represents the biggest challenges to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable; and they portend that unless the world steps up to tackle this crisis, we will potentially be handing over current and future generations a dangerous future.
What are people doing this year?
Customarily Earth Day activities involve community clean ups around the world in addition to campaigns and challenges. However, with most of the world in lockdown because of COVID-19, people are being encouraged to contribute virtually. Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network advised, “Amid the recent outbreak, we encourage people to rise up but to do so safely and responsibly – in many cases, that means using our voices to drive action online rather than in person”. She added “Whether it be coronavirus or our global climate crisis, we cannot shut down. Instead, we must shift our energies and efforts to new ways to mobilize the world to action”.
How can you get involved?
There are many ways to get involved, from joining in virtual movements, webinar discussions and social media campaigns to small lifestyle changes. Here are several suggestions:
- join the global conversation on social media using hashtags such as #EarthDay2020, #EARTHRISE and #strikewithus
- participate in digital Earth Day activities – this map shows virtual events that groups near you are hosting
- try to cut back on plastic consumption and recycle responsibly
- consider incorporating more plant-based meals in your diet
- go green by studying an online degree – read more about this on our blog