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Blog – Earth Day 2020: 50th Anniversary

By Raheela Rehman

22 April 2020 – This year marked the 50th anniversary of the global Earth Day. An annual event, created to support environmental protection, officially first celebrated in 1970. This year the world’s largest environmental campaign aimed to spur 1 billion people across 200 countries into action, under the theme of Climate Change.

If 2020 was not already a stand-out year, the pandemic has highlighted how our relationship with the planet has never been more important. Closely aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a healthy ecosystem helps to protect us and our wildlife, whereby biodiversity reduces the risk of rapid spread of pathogens[1]. Our unprecedented times have opened a window of opportunity to participate and create long-lasting change. This year is particularly different to those previously, the global lock-down mobilised the first Digital Earth Day.

Background

The USA Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1969, following the large oil spill off the coast of California, proposed the national day (22 April 1970) to increase public awareness of environmental issues. Galvanising 20 million Americans (10% of the US population at the time) protested to protect the environment. It was at the end of that year that major environmental laws in the USA were passed, which have since been enhanced and improved (Environmental Protection Agency created, National Environmental Education Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act). Since its inception, the activities have grown, and in 1990 it became global.

What can you do

The Earth Day Network has established the Citizen Science Initiative, the “Earth Challenge 2020”. It seeks to integrate existing citizen science projects and build capacity for new ones. The campaign will collect observations of Air quality – Water quality – Pollution – Biodiversity – Human health.

You can participate today:

  • Identify research questions
  • Data analysis
  • Result dissemination
  • Education and dissemination of findings
  • Pathways to engagement

The Earth Day Tools are accessible at www.earthday.org/24-hours-of-action and www.earthday.org/take-action-now.

Whilst in lockdown, there are further number of things we can also do. Thomas Reuters Foundation provides a short handy list (Wildlife sanctuary at home, Online activism, Food use, Spring clean, Rework your wardrobe and move your money) if we can’t go out. Once the lockdown is lifted, the Guardian provides 50 “Expert tips on how to be kinder to the planet”.

The global environmental awareness has grown, with increased participation. How will you make your mark?

Caption: Philippe Cousteau supports Earth Challenge 2020

[1] Does biodiversity loss leads to an increased disease risk?, Science Daily

Stay Healthy, Stay Safe and get Connected!

 

 

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