This year, Earth Day is celebrating its 50th anniversary! Celebrated around the world to encourage support for environmental protection, Earth Day is a day to join together to address the most urgent issues and threats facing Mother Earth.
Read on to learn everything from the history of Earth Day to details about the 2020 celebration to what you can do to share your responsibility to the environment.
History of earth day
The first official Earth Day began in 1970 after a major oil spill took place in Santa Barbara, California. On January 28, 1969, a well being drilled off the coast of Santa Barbara blew out, resulting in more than 3 million gallons of oil leaking into the ocean. Thousands of animals were killed, including birds, dolphins, sea lions, and seals. Because of this major disaster, environmentalists and activists created environmental regulations, education, and ultimately, Earth Day.
On the first anniversary of the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1970, activists celebrated Environmental Rights Day, where they read the Declaration of Environmental Rights. Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson, spearheaded the movement and convinced the U.S. government that the planet was at risk.
Later that year, the first official Earth Day celebration took place. Thousands of colleges, universities, high schools, elementary schools, and communities throughout the United States participated in a peaceful demonstration to encourage environmental reform.
Following the Earth Day celebration, Congress began passing more important laws that have been critical for our environment including that Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and more.
Today, Earth Day is observed in 192 countries and organized by the nonprofit, Earth Day Network. EDN organizes activities, gatherings, and collaborations across the world. According to EDN, “more than 1 billion people are involved in Earth Day activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world.”
when is earth day 2020?
Celebrating its “golden anniversary” this year, the 2020 Earth Day theme centers on Climate Action. According to EDN, climate change is affecting us every day, whether we can see it or not.
It’s commonly known that climate change is caused by “greenhouse effect,” when the Earth’s atmosphere fills up with a combination of gases, (including methane and carbon dioxide), holds the sun’s heat within our atmosphere, prevents heat from escaping, and acts like a greenhouse. Evidence that the increased levels of greenhouse gases are warming the Earth can be found in tree rings, coral reefs, and especially glaciers. According to American Chemical society, these gases make significant contributions to changing the radiation balance of our planet.
As NASA explains, Earth’s overall average temperature has increased “about 1.62 degrees in Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.” And here’s the kicker, since 2010, we have had the 5 warmest years on record. Did 2019 feel especially warm to you? Well, it was. It was the second hottest year ever to date, recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. With all this warm weather we’re creating, sea levels are quickly rising, ice sheets and snow coverage are decreasing, and the acidity of the ocean is going up.
Where do these greenhouse gases come from?
Scientists at NASA believe that a lot of these greenhouse gases blocking the sun’s heat from escaping are created by us. For example, as we farm livestock and agriculture, we produce a vast amount of methane. In addition, as we tear down forests to make room for urban growth, carbon dioxide levels increase. The biggest contributor to greenhouse gases is burning fossil fuels. Over the last century, humans have been burning fossil fuels like coal and oil. When we burn these fossil fuels, the burning process combines carbon with oxygen in the air, resulting in carbon dioxide.
The biggest contributor to greenhouse gases is burning fossil fuels. Over the last century, humans have been burning fossil fuels like coal and oil. When we burn these fossil fuels, the burning process combines carbon with oxygen in the air, resulting in carbon dioxide.”
So, what’s the big deal?
The consequences of climate change may not dramatically affect us in our lifetime, but science has already seen huge effects. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has proved that places are going to get warmer. While this may sound great for people who live in colder areas, those that live in already hot places are not going to be pleased.
Scientists have very high confidence that If we don’t act now, temperatures will continue to rise. The long-term, future effects of climate change mean several things for our environment besides places getting warmer. Frost seasons will become shorter, while growing seasons will lengthen. At first, this may seem like a positive effect. However, warmer overnight temps can negatively affect productivity and quality of crops, resulting in higher grocery store costs for us. Oh, and allergy season would last longer, which no one wants.
With the climate changing, we can also expect the sea levels to rise. As glaciers and ice melt, that water will need to go somewhere. As a result of high sea levels, scientists expect storm surges and high tides in the coming years, leading to an increase in flooding.
ways to celebrate earth day at home
Even though many of us may be stuck at home for this year’s Earth Day, it’s still important to celebrate! Here are a few ways you can participate in Earth Day and do your part for Climate Action:
- Reduce your carbon footprint around your home: Instead of constantly buying plastic water bottles, try the zero-waste approach when it comes to drinking water. For immediate access to clean, healthy water without all that plastic waste, install one of our Countertop Filters or Under Sink Filters. Need water on the go? Use a refillable bottle like our 18oz. glass bottles.
- Try a meatless meal: As we mentioned, livestock produces a significant amount of methane. Cutting back on the amount of meat you eat per week will help decrease greenhouse gases.
- Plant a tree in your backyard: Trees can help reduce climate change as they remove carbon dioxide from the air, store carbon within themselves and soil, then release oxygen back into the atmosphere. Check your local area for nurseries and plant stores that are open.
- Unplug your devices for the day: A large majority of the energy that powers our homes comes directly from fossil fuels. If we unplug our electronic devices, we will reduce our home’s energy demand and carbon emission.
With a cause as important as the well-being of the planet we all live on, we think Earth Day should be celebrated every day of the year.