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Earth Day, which is celebrated annually on April 22, is usually commemorated with outdoor activities demonstrating support for environmental protection. These include planting trees, collecting roadside or beach trash, and conducting, or participating in, recycling and conservation programs.
While the coronavirus lockdowns will restrict some of the usual activities, organizations, educators, and activists worldwide have devised numerous ways to mark the 50th anniversary of this all-important holiday, which is dedicated to climate action this year, without leaving the comfort of your homes. Here are a few of the digital Earth Day celebrations planned for 2020.
The Earth Day Network, in partnership with online climate activist organizations We Don't Have Time and Exponentialroadmap has planned the world's largest digital climate conference. From April 20 to April 24, 2020, over 100 experts from a wide range of industries and five continents will meet over the internet to discuss topics ranging from climate finance to food and agriculture to local government. The free five-day event, which will be live-streamed to viewers worldwide via the wedonthavetime.org website will culminate on April 25, 2020, with a Climate Hackathon.
Ingmar Rentzhog, the founder and CEO of We Don't Have Time, said, "The current pandemic of coronavirus has harmed lives, livelihoods, and economies. It has also triggered the postponement of the crucial UK-hosted, UN climate conference, where climate action was meant to rise to the next level towards meeting the landmark Paris Agreement. The world must clearly lift the threat of the current pandemic, but we cannot lose sight of the even bigger crisis facing our planet and its people." He hopes the online conference will "inspire everyone to get the climate job done at speed and at scale."
Those seeking Earth Day digital events closer to home can check out the interactive map on the Earth Day Network site. Updated regularly, the comprehensive list, neatly classified in categories ranging from conservation to artists for Earth Day to citizen science, has something to suit every environmentalist's interest. The non-profit organization has also put together a 22-day challenge that families can undertake to protect the planet.
US Space Agency NASA is celebrating the momentous day with an exclusive Earth Day 50th Anniversary Toolkit. The collection of fun activities, videos, special programs, and other materials will enable kids and adults to observe Earth Day at home. With schools still shuttered in many countries, educators are also getting creative. Some are hosting virtual events to teach recycling practices that students and their families can easily adopt, while others are organizing tutorials to help students create posters and art advocating for action to reverse climate change.
In California's Davis, Yolo, Solano, and Sacramento counties, residents will celebrate the movement with "The Earth Day Sing Out." Community members are encouraged to record themselves singing one of the 30 suggested songs, or an Earth Day song of their choice, and post a short video on Twitter with the hashtags #earthdaysingoutdavis, #earthdaysingout, and #earthday2020. The submissions will be played on the local radio station at specified times on April 22 for all to hear.
The first Earth Day celebration was organized on April 22, 1970, by Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson. The event was an instant success, with over 20 million demonstrators across the US taking to the streets to voice their concerns about the deteriorating environment. They urged the government to take action before it was too late. Over the years, the grassroots movement has grown into the world's largest civic event — one that is celebrated by over 1 billion people in 192 countries. The concerns of the general public have led to the passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States, including the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970.
Let us know what you and your family plan to do to help the planet on this special Earth Day anniversary by adding your comments below.
Resources: Earthday.org, www.cooldavis.org, www.wedonthavetime.org