Earth Day 2020: Climate Action

The Earth is being celebrated annually every April 22nd. This year, April 22, 2020, marks its 50th year with the theme, Climate Action.

Earth Day has become the largest civic event that aims to have a unified movement to combat an environment crisis – pollution, ocean acidification, deforestation, and climate change to name a few. For fifty years, Earth Day is a significant occasion to educate citizens, celebrate the planet, and call for support to forward for the Earth.

This commemoration is a good reminder that citizens of the world can stand together for the benefit of the planet and its inhabitants. It is also an opportunity to get reminded how Earth should be taken good care of and call out purveyors that endangers it.

Earth Day in History

Started on April 22, 1970, by its founder and then U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, the first Earth Day has given birth to modern environmental efforts and paved the way to annually recognize the said civic movement to call for support to help the planet fight its continuing ecological challenges.

The first Earth Day movement has joined by approximately 20 million Americans (10 percent of the total U.S. population during that time) to protest environmental unawareness and request a new mode of techniques and systems to support planet Earth.

The said protest has been successful and drew actions by the government to create environmental laws to protect the environment such as the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and public policies like The Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Act which many countries around the world have adopted as well.

The first Earth Day also opened opportunities for volunteers, environmental advocates, and activists to form organizations for the benefit of nature. In 1971, Greenpeace, an environmental activist organization was established. 

Earth Day has consistently held major international events to put countries together and lay significance in protecting the planet. Hence, on Earth Day 2016, the United Nations (UN) has signed on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change that aims to strengthen the global action to the danger of climate change.

At present, more and more advocates are starting to make a difference for the environment regardless of age. One is Greta Thunberg, a Swedish Teenager and Climate Activist who called for “School Strike for Climate,” which participated by more than 17,000 students from over 20 countries.

Earth Day in the Philippines

Earth Day is also being recognized in the Philippines every April 22, the same day as it is recognized globally. Proclamation No. 1481 signed and effective on April 10, 2008, by former Philippine President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as the may convenor.

Various private and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) have made April 22 in celebration of the planet through Earth Day Runs, Mass Tree Planting, Clean Up drives, and Earth Day Concerts among others. The aim of these said events is to bring people together, educate them on the importance of acting for the Earth, and share and strengthen the advocacy for the planet.

Earth Today

At present, the planet Earth is experiencing a lot of changes that seem apparent through the current climate and deterioration of biodiversity. Humans play a significant role in the changes that the planet face.

As of March 2020, the Earth population has reached 7.7 billion. Therefore, 7.7 billion people are competing for a limited number of natural resources including food, water, and fuel. Experts and scientists believe that the planet has reached the limits of what it can only support. Thus, controlling population growth has deemed necessary.

Due to the advancement of technology and the emergence of various businesses, the majority of the world’s population is already living in urban than rural areas. Hence, a greater number of pollutants were being listed due to the growing need for transportation, manufacturing, and other production. The rise of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has been a serious threat to the planet.

The effects of global warming also affected the patterns of water and its accessibility for necessities. Some regions and rural areas dependent on agriculture experience a lack of access to safe drinking water and or supply per se to cultivate.

Aside from these challenges, the Earth also faces threats of deforestation, ocean acidification, and failing ecosystems.

Climate Action

Goal 13 in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals is Climate Action.  The goal seeks to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact.

Any country in the world is experiencing the drastic effects of climate change. It is evident through the number and the intensity of natural disasters that occur annually. Global warming is also a major threat that has a lifelong effect on nature and its inhabitants.

Climate Action aims to strengthen the resilience and adaptability of the world most especially the most vulnerable areas and regions (island states and confined countries). Climate Action calls nations to create mandate and national policies integrating essential measures and strategies empowering climate resilience and disaster response.

Anyone on Earth – whether private or public organizations, leaders, and ordinary citizens – are encouraged to help to craft a collective effort to support climate action.

Photo from United Nations SDG Fund

What People Can Do to Help

Everybody can do their part to help combat the implications of climate change. By simply using energy wisely - unplugging electronics when not in use, washing clothes in cold water and simply hanging them dry, and changing lightbulbs to more energy-efficient ones, to name a few – can help.

Supporting local, all-natural, sustainable, and organic businesses can also contribute to the recovery aim of the environment. It lessens energy use to create items, transport products from and to, and it also helps the local economy to grow. Eating a less-meat, plant-based diet can also benefit. Consuming less, upcycling, repurposing, composting, and/or recycling is encouraged as well.

Resorting to a greener commute is also essential. To lessen carbon footprint, people may consider the option of taking public transport, car-pooling, riding a bike, or switching to electric vehicles.

Being politically active and choosing good leaders is also a vital aspect of succeeding in the battle towards a better climate. Employing great political leaders can also give birth to necessary national policies that citizens and nature can benefit from.

Spreading the word about climate action initiatives, staying engaged, and educating fellowmen are also significant contributions to the battle. By doing so, it promotes collective actions to care to eliminate the hazardous and overwhelming impact of climate change to the planet.

 

References: 

Earth Day Organization (n.d). Earth Day 2020. earthday.org. https://www.earthday.org/philippines/ 

History Editors. (5 March 2020). Earth Day Timeline. History. https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/earth-day-timeline 

Medina, M. (22 April 2019). DID YOU KNOW: Philippines’ Earth Day . Inquirer.net. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1109009/did-you-know-philippines-earth-day 

Sustainable Development Goals Fund. Goal 13: Climate Action. https://www.sdgfund.org/goal-13-climate-action 

Thompson, A. (21 April 2009). Earth Checkup: 10 Health Status Signs. LiveScience. https://www.livescience.com/11391-earth-checkup-10-health-status-signs.html 

United Nations Climate Change. (22 October 2018). What is the Paris Agreement? . https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/what-is-the-paris-agreement 

Worldometer. (13 April 2020). Current World Population. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

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