Tomorrow is Earth Day and, as the ongoing climate crisis escalates amidst the pandemic, April 22 becomes an even more significant day in the battle to save our planet.
Established in 1970 as a day to highlight the specific environmental challenges the world is facing, from climate crisis to air pollution and deforestation, Earth Day is supported by millions of people across the world. This year sees three days of climate-focused activity, anchored by US president Joe Biden’s invitation to 40 world leaders to take part in a virtual summit in order to highlight the urgency for stronger climate action.
The theme of this year’s Earth Day is Restore Our Earth, which focuses on both the need to reduce our impact on the planet as we recover from the effects of Covid-19 and the role we play in repairing the damage we’ve done. Despite suggestions that nature had a chance to ‘heal itself’ when countries went into lockdown at the start of the pandemic, figures show that global C02 emissions are now back at pre-pandemic levels. And with dramatic cuts of an estimated 45% by 2030 required to keep global warming to 1.5°C, the enormity of the challenge we’re facing is clear.
“This Earth Day, we have an important opportunity to challenge our leaders to commit to climate action on a global scale,” says Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network. “We are at the edge of a cliff — if we don’t act now to reduce carbon emissions, there will be no way back.” With world climate leaders, grassroots activists, non-profit innovators, thought leaders, industry leaders, artists, musicians, influencers, and the leaders of tomorrow coming together to push us towards a better world, there are thousands of events taking place for this year’s Earth Day, both online and IRL.
“For over half a century, hundreds of millions of people from around the globe have taken political and volunteer action on Earth Day, yet multiple accelerating environmental and health crises continue to envelop our planet, impacting everyone but particularly the poor and vulnerable who live among us,” says Kathleen. “On behalf of the one billion people who will take part in Earth Day this year, even in the midst of a second year of the pandemic, we demand that the talking stop and that governments and corporations commit to net-zero emissions by 2040 with an interim goal of cutting emissions in half by 2030. Anything less will deprive our children of their right to inherit a habitable planet.”
Want to get involved? It’s easy. Organisers have also produced a handy toolkit to help you get involved, whether that’s organising a teach-in to educate people on the challenges we’re facing or a clean-up – something that’s even more needed considering the increased pollution we’ve seen from single-use masks and gloves during the pandemic. You can also tune into Earth Day Live 2021, a live-streamed event that includes workshops, panel discussions, and a series of guest appearances.
Encouraging us to look at natural processes, green technologies, and innovative thinking that can make a lasting and transformative impact to restore our Earth, this occasion marks the perfect time to consider how you can adapt your everyday activities to live a more sustainable life. From recycling household waste, avoiding single-use plastics, and switching to renewable energy to wearing sustainably sourced clothing, using public transport over cars, and eating more local produce, looking after the planet is something we all must take responsibility for – and there’s not a moment to waste.
Want to learn more about Earth Day? Check out National Geographic’s top documentaries to watch here.