Earth Day 2021 is on April 22nd, and this year the theme is Restore Our Earth. For centuries now, we have seen the depletion of natural resources at a staggering rate as well as the destruction of nature itself on an almost unimaginable scale. The restoration and protection of our planet need to be prioritized over everything else, yet we are seeing little done for this. Countries around the world seem to be concerned more about social progression and technological advancements, leaving little for environmental groups to help the Earth.
This year, Earth Day will be used to promote the importance of this restoration and protection by launching various projects dedicated to helping nature, as well as start challenges, promote education, and host events, all geared towards the Restoration of Earth. While Earth day itself is on April 22nd, there will be three days of events which will end with Earth Day Live, the first remote celebration of Earth.
Three Days of Earth Day 2021
On April 20th, Earth Day will hold a Global Youth Climate Summit that is being led by Earth Uprising. This summit will include panels, discussions, and messages from youth climate activists including Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Villasenor, and Licypriya Kangujam. Following this, there will be a digital event, “We Shall Breathe,” that, “will examine the climate and environmental justice, connecting the climate crisis to issues of pollution, poverty, police brutality, and the pandemic, all within a racial justice framework.”
April 21st will be focused on, “Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit.” This summit will focus on the role and impact that educators have in fighting against climate change and other environmentally unsafe activities. This will be a multilingual event and will feature prominent figures from every continent.
Finally, April 22nd will feature Earth Day Live, the second iteration of this digital event. It will include workshops, panel discussions, and performances all focused on the theme of Earth Day this year, “Restore Our Earth.” The event will also include topics such as Climate and environmental literacy, climate restoration technologies, citizen science, equity and environmental justice, restoration efforts, cleanups, and regenerative agriculture, to name a few.
Furthermore, there are several events taking place around the world. Find an event near you by visiting the Earth Day website, https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/
The Five Pillars of Restore Our Earth
The Restore Our Earth theme is supported by five essential pillars. Each of these is geared towards helping the planet by tackling the biggest problems that nature faces. These five pillars are The Canopy Project, Food and Environment, The Great Global Cleanup, Climate Literacy, and Global Earth Challenge.
The Canopy Project
Forests are often called the lungs of our planet. They are instrumental in fighting global climate change due to their ability to take in Carbon Dioxide, one of the most abundant greenhouse gases, and release Oxygen. This is a way that the planet recycles Carbon Dioxide. However, after decades of continuous deforestation, our planet’s lungs have depleted to a staggeringly small amount. From 1990-2016 alone, the Earth lost over 502,000 square miles of forests, an area larger than the entirety of South Africa (according to the World Bank).
To tackle this gross injustice done upon the planet, The Canopy Project will continue its work. Over the past decade, The Canopy Project has planted over ten million trees and has greatly helped the fight to stop mass deforestation. So, the Earth Day Organization has devoted itself to continuing this effort by launching more reforestation campaigns in places that are in dire need of this.
Food And Environment
The second pillar of Restore Our Earth is an emphasis on the food we consume. The Earth Day Organization has described this pillar as a fight to reduce a person’s Foodprint. According to the earth day website, “A foodprint measures the environmental impacts associated with the growing, producing, transporting, and storing of our food - from natural resources consumed to the pollution produced to the greenhouse gases emitted.”
So, it is not enough for us to rave about our healthy food choices. What we deem as healthy for our bodies, can be extremely harmful to the environment and consequently to future generations. The Earth Day Organization lists a few ways for people to reduce their foodprints, including recipes, educating yourself about the system, and even discovering your impact.
The Great Global Cleanup
Litter is one of the leading causes of pollution on our planet. It is also one of a few forms of pollution that affect every single ecosystem. It is responsible for the large piles of floating plastic in our oceans and is even a leading cause for various endangerment events. While it is important to stop littering, the damage has been done, so it is also important to fix that.
The Great Global Cleanup consists of groups around the world going to various locations and cleaning up the litter in that area to ensure it does not affect the environment. These groups can be located on the map provided on the Earth Day website and they are also encouraging other groups to share their location and encourage people in their social groups to join the cleanup. It is about time we take an initiative and tackle the problem of litter around the world as a global community.
One of the biggest reasons for pollution is that many people are unaware of the consequences of certain actions. Climate Literacy will tackle this problem by providing education to the masses to give people the skills needed to treat the planet better. This will not only educate people, but it would also create teaching jobs and create green consumer markets.
The campaign, launched last summer, has been, “combining grassroots support and on the ground efforts by students, educators, and nonprofits with national-level commitments from Ministries of Education and Environment.”
Now, educating people is one of the best ways to inform people of best practices that would help them take the first step towards restoring our planet. This will allow people to understand the importance of these best practices as well as how and who to reach out to in the government, their city, and their district to enforce green plans and improve the environment in their immediate area.
Global Earth Challenge
The Global Earth Challenge, started last year, is a method for people to use their smartphones and collect information and data from their surroundings to help with the data being collected by environmental groups around the world.
Currently, the Global Earth Challenge is focused on collecting data on insects, especially bees, and seeing how they have changed over the years. This data is extremely important for understanding the long-term effects on the planet. Insects are an integral part of the ecosystem, and their survival is crucial to ensure that the ecosystem remains healthy.
Each year, the focus of the Global Earth Challenge switches and by downloading the app, users can collect and pass on data and support research on environmental factors such as air quality, plastic use, and food security.
Finally, there is an initiative to begin restoring our planet through conducting various activities, such as participating in cleanups, and plogging (picking up litter while jogging). These small activities can help the environment while also motivate and inspire others to do the same.
This year Earth Day has a clear message, we must help our planet by pushing to restore it. Through the various practices and events planned for the three-day Earth Day celebration, we can get inspired, educated, and motivated to better our planet. We have one planet, a planet we share with millions of other lifeforms and this means that we must fix the damage we have done to the planet. Every small action counts, but it is the big actions that matter most now. This year, let us all devote some of our time to helping the planet.