The theme for Earth Day 2020 is ‘Climate Action’, focusing on climate change and the things that we can do to help make a difference and protect our planet.
First of all, What is Earth Day?
The very first Earth Day took place on the 22nd April in 1970. This was when 20 million American came together to call for greater protection for our planet. At the time, this was equal to 10% of the US population. The concerns towards our planets environment stemmed from a book published in 1962 by Rachel Carson, it was called ‘Silent Spring’ and it aimed to raise awareness of the concerns in regards to living organisms, the environment and the inextricable links between public health and pollution.
The very first Earth Day achieved a rare political alignment, as it received support from republicans, democrats, the rich and the poor, urban dwellers and farmers, business and labour leaders. A lot of people with various beliefs, coming from different backgrounds, all coming together to support Earth Day in the hope of raising awareness of environmental concerns and making a difference, with the aim of saving our planet.
Before the end of 1970, Earth Day led to some very important pieces of legislation being put into place; such as, The Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act and The Endangered Species Act.
As the years went by, Earth Day became more well known as more people came together to help save our planet. In 1990 Earth Day went global, reaching 200 million people across 141 countries. In 2000, it used the power of the media to start millions of conversations across more that 180 countries. Now we have reached 2020, marking fifty years since the very first Earth Day and it aims to bring together over one billion people worldwide for transformative action to save our planet.
This year the theme for Earth Day is Climate Action. Focusing on climate change, the impact that it is having on our planet, wildlife and us as human beings…
But, What Is Climate Change?
Climate Change is the process of our planet heating up. This is also commonly referred to as Global Warming.
What Causes Global Warming?
- Burning of fossil fuels – Industrial countries have been burning large amounts of fossil fuels over the last 150 years. This includes oil and gas. When toxic gases are leaked into the atmosphere, they create a layer, kind of like a blanket, which traps in the heat from the sun and warms the earth. This is often referred to as The Greenhouse Effect.
- Farming – It may sound bizarre, but cows have eating habits which contribute to climate change! Similar to us, when cows eat, methane (a form of greenhouse gas) builds up within their digestive system and is them released into the atmosphere in the form of a burp!
- Deforestation – Forests absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide and release oxygen out into the atmosphere; cleansing the air. However, large amounts of forest areas are being torn down to make room for farming, housing, roads, mines and damns. They are also destroyed for wood and for palm oil.
- Cars – The fumes that are forced into the atmosphere via cars are also very harmful for our planet, contributing to the air pollution, trapping in the heat and warming our planet.
What Effects Does Global Warming Have On The Planet?
The warming of the planet not only causes extreme and unpredictable weathers; which affects wildlife, farming and people. But it is also causing sea levels to rise and shrinkage in sea ice levels.
US Global Change Research Program say that the temperature in the US has increased by 2° in the last 50 years. This may not seem like a lot, but it is having a large impact on our planet, our wildlife and our people.
Effects on Wildlife
Global Warming is affecting wildlife all across the world, however some animals are suffering much more than others. For example, as sea ice decreases, arctic animals are struggling to survive in their naturally icy habitats.
Polar bears use the sea ice for hunting, feeding their babies and taking a break after long periods of swimming. Without this ice, they are struggling to hunt for food, they are struggling to feed their babies and they are having to spend more time in the snow, and less time in the water as they have no resting places to recover their energy whilst swimming. As a result, polar bears are looking frail and skinny in comparison to what they once looked like. They should look energetic, healthy and full of life, but instead they are becoming an endangered species.
In regards to deforestation; many animals are being forced out of their own habitats and many are dying as a result. Their homes are being torn down from under them. Orangutang’s are amongst the most vulnerable species within the rainforests that are being destroyed. The beautiful animals are going to end up extinct.
One of the main reasons for deforestation is to make palm oil, a substance that is used in thousands of products that we purchase on a daily basis. It is found in biscuits, bread, soaps, makeup and much more. Most of the time, this is an unnecessary ingredient. Some palm oils are sustainable and are retracted in a safe manner, without tearing down forests and destroying the habitats of many animals, these are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
You can see a list of items containing palm oil here, along with palm oil free products and some stores that are known for being palm oil free, or using RSPO certified products.
Turtles also rely on a specific type of weather when nesting and laying their eggs. The temperature of their nests will determine whether or not they hatch male or female babies. With the global temperatures rising, turtles have more chances of having female babies over males, threatening the future population for the species.
Effects on People
Global Warming is already having an impact on people. It is mainly affecting the likes of farmers who grow the food that we eat every day. Farmers in developing countries are being faced with unpredictable weather changes, higher temperatures, increased rainfall, floods and draughts. As a result, their crops are not able to grow and many farmers turn to using cheap chemicals, to improve their crop. Though these chemicals help the farmers in the short-term, using them for long periods of time can damage their soil.
Heat waves, caused by Global Warming, present a much higher risk of heat-related illnesses and deaths. Affecting people with diabetes, elderly people and vulnerable young people.
What Can We Do To Help Our Planet?
There are many things that we can do to help our planet, our wildlife and our people.
If we purchase fair-trade products we can help to make sure that farmers are paid a fair wage, helping them to keep their crops healthy without having to buy cheaper, unhealthy products.
Small changes within your home can also help! Making sure to turn all of the lights off when you leave a room and turning off switches at the wall when not in use. You could even try switching to energy saving light bulbs!
Try not to use your car for small or unnecessary reasons.
Be sure to recycle and reduce food waste.
Whilst on the topic of recycling; try not to use or purchase plastic bags! We understand that the waste of plastic bags have decreased since bringing in the 10p charge, however this could still be decreased much further! Some stores are supplying paper bags, or canvas bags; though they are a little bit dearer they are more durable. Keep some in your car at all times so that you do not have to buy more every time that you go to the shops.
As mentioned earlier; please try to avoid buying products containing palm oil! By purchasing these products, they become popular and more of them will be made; destroying more forests and leaving many animals without a home, threatening their lives and causing them to become endangered.
Donating to Save Our Planet
If you would like to donate money towards saving our planet, you can click on the link below! This will take you directly to the official Earth Day donation page.