Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, where millions of people come together to protect the planet.
However, with the vast majority of the world isolating at home, Earth Day 2020 will be somewhat different to its previous years, with organisers asking people to rally online for the first ever Digital Earth Day.
Rather than flooding streets, parks and stadiums, people are being encouraged to use their voices to drive action online rather than in person.
That all sounds very nice, but what does World Earth Day mean and why do we have it?
World Earth Day is held on April 22nd – the same date every year, and is celebrated by an estimated one billion people worldwide – making it the largest civic observance in the world.
Earth Day was first launched 50 years ago, when millions of Americans took to the streets to protest for environmental reform. The event was the brainchild of senator Gaylord Nelson, after a devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969.
By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the first of their kind environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Two years later Congress passed the Clean Water Act. One year after that, the Endangered Species Act was passed, and soon after the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
These laws have protected millions of men, women and children from disease and death, as well as protecting hundreds of species from extinction.
First started as a way to teach environmentalism and protest against the negative aspects of industrialisation, Earth Day soon became a global environmental movement. People from across the globe are encouraged to partake in activities that protect the environment, from recycling and planting trees to reducing our carbon footprint.
How can I take part this year?
Due to the current global pandemic, this year World Earth Day will be celebrated considerably differently. With individuals protesting virtually, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Participants are encouraged to share the hashtags #EarthDay2020 and #EARTHRISE acorss social media.
Earth Day Network will be providing live coverage of the “global digital mobilisations” online, and other digital events include virtual protests, social media campaigns, online seminars and more. Join them on and on social media for 24 hours of action on Earth Day!
What is this year’s theme?
Each year, Earth Day has a different theme. The theme for 2020 is climate action.
Organisers say the “enormous challenge – but also vast opportunities – of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.”
Whilst the coronavirus may force people to keep their distance, this doesn’t mean that they cannot be heard. The only way for the world to change is for a bold and unified demand for a new way forward. We may be apart, but through the power of digital media, we are also connected now, more than ever. No matter where you are, you can make a difference. You are not alone, because together, we can save the Earth.