Source: PNG Egg

Earth Day: Today

In these unprecedented times, every day needs to be Earth Day.

Earth Day 1970 was a social movement built on the success of the previous decade. Voting rights were strengthened, civil rights were outlined, and women were demanding equal treatment. Fast forward 51 years and what started off as a grassroots movement has now exploded into an international day of attention and activism dedicated to preserving the natural world. The subject of detrimental environmental change has gained a lot of buzz in the past few decades. In recent years, scientists, policy makers, and the public have become increasingly concerned about the threat that such change, if it continues unabated, poses for the future. Unlike the first Earth Day, 2021’s celebration exists in a world with a more robust regulatory framework to enact environmental policy and legislature, regulate our impact and create real, lasting change. 

What changed 

Everything about our world has changed since the 1970s. First off, the world’s population has basically doubled from 3.7 billion in 1970 to well over 7 billion today. More people are consuming resources, but more resources are also being consumed per person. On average, wealthier, developed countries in the Global North are each burning more fossil fuels than we were in 1970, eating more meat, and traveling more than ever before. All that consumption adds up to a 90% increase in CO2 emissions since 1970, which after being trapped in the atmosphere, has contributed to ocean waters warming 0.6 °C and sea levels rising more than 5-6 inches. And if that’s not enough, average global temperatures have risen more quickly since the late 1970s (0.29 to 0.46°F per decade since 1979).

What now 

“Earth Day today is about more than just saving our planet – it’s about saving humanity.”

Throughout the decades, Earth Day has been about saving species, ecosystems, and natural habitats from threats like air and water pollution. While these aspects are still focused on, Earth Day today is about more than just saving our planet – it’s about saving humanity. This generation of climate activists has grown up thinking of themselves as truly global citizens. We are more aware of the immediate threat that is facing us, and we’ve made it clear that there is no planet B. The first Earth Day may have started as protest, but it sparked a global movement that is now the vehicle for taking urgent and immediate climate action. 

Earth Day 1970 March // Source: Earth Institute, Columbia University 

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing public health lockdowns around the world, Earth Day 2020 went entirely digital for the first time in its history. Billions of people took part, allowing technology to connect us from all corners of the planet. While the coronavirus forced us to keep our distance, it couldn’t quiet our voices. Over the 24 hours, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day filled the digital landscape with global conversations, calls to action, performances, video teach-ins and webinars, workshops and more. This year, Earth Day remains largely digital. No matter where you are, you can still make a difference. 

Earth Day 2020 Flyer // Source: EarthShare

April 22nd, 2021

The theme of 2021’s Earth Day Canada celebration is Take Care of the Planet. Earth Day Canada is looking to raise awareness among Canadians about the urgency of taking action for the environment and to encourage us to continue taking concrete actions to take care of the planet on a daily basis.

The Media Campaign 

This year’s campaign plays on the irony that animals have to clean up their polluted environments themselves. That may sound funny, but looking at these animals should spark a thought in each and every one of us. They shouldn’t be dealing with this, we should. There are many simple things you can do every day to take care of the planet. It can be as small as picking up one piece of trash every day or as large as participating or organizing a beach cleanup (health measures permitted). 

The Earth Day Canada 2021 campaign invites Canadians to share the actions they are completing to take care of the planet through video testimonials on social networks. You can post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and more, using the hashtags #TakeCareOfThePlanet #EarthDay2021. 

Since Earth Day 2021 will be virtual for most parts of the world, Earth Day Canada has developed an amazing list of suggestions for what you can do at home and in your community. At home, there are ideas on food, energy, waste, sustainable mobility, and nature. In your community, there are ideas for whether you are acting on behalf of a school, municipality, organization or just yourself. Earth Day Canada has an online calendar where you can register your activities and find out about virtual or local events. 

For the second year in a row, Earth Day Canada is calling on municipalities to play a role in the ecological transition. Cities and towns across Canada are mobilizing to take action towards creating healthier environments, using April 22nd in particular to make a positive impact. These municipalities are also contributing to the ecological transition by organizing and supporting actions in celebration of Earth Day in an effort to encourage everyone in their communities to join the movement. 

Download Earth Day Canada’s 2021 Media Campaign and get started, because the world won’t wait for you – it can’t. 

Source: Earth Day Canada

This article is part of a 3-part editorial series, in collaboration with Earth Day Canada, titled ‘The Past, Present, and Future of Earth Day’. Check out the full series here!

Teo Guzu is a Master’s in Environment and Sustainability student with a focus on policy and research. Her background is in the field of Sociology and Global Development Studies where she developed an interest in how climate change disproportionately affects different communities. Her interests lie in plastics and waste management, conservation, and clean technology. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family/friends and her dog Charlie, reading, writing, and watching docu-series on various topics.