The most renowned day to celebrate the Earth falls on April 22nd each year, otherwise known as Earth Day. This annual holiday brings people together from all over the planet to celebrate the beauty of mother nature and join in protecting our planet for years to come.
This year, Earth Day is centering around the idea of Investing in Our Planet. EARTHDAY.ORG shares that “This is the moment to change it all — the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate. Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, and our livelihoods. For Earth Day 2022, we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.”
History of Earth Day
Earth Day first began in 1970 when Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and many students were concerned with the environment and desired increased protection for the planet. At that time, there was an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California that made it the largest oil spill in United States waters in history. Since then, there have been two oil spill disasters, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon and the 1989 Exxon Valdez spills, putting the Santa Barbara spill ranked third.
“Inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Nelson wanted to infuse the energy of student anti-war protests with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a teach-in on college campuses to the national media, and persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair. They recruited Denis Hayes, a young activist, to organize the campus teach-ins and they choose April 22, a weekday falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, to maximize the greatest student participation.” — EARTHDAY.ORG
As a movement that once started with concerned college students and government leaders, this demonstration soon became popular with everyday people who cared about the Earth and wanted to be part of making a positive change. It allowed businesses and organizations to take a stand and initiate changes both internally and externally. It provided a platform for those to speak out, who were often excluded from conversations about the environment. It was the framework to spark necessary change, ensuring a prosperous future for ecosystems and people from all walks of life.
EARTHDAY.ORG reflected on the monumental change that the first Earth Day celebration had on the trajectory for the future of the environment. “Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and farmers, business and labor leaders. By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of other first of their kind environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Two years later Congress passed the Clean Water Act. A year after that, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act and soon after the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. These laws have protected millions of men, women and children from disease and death and have protected hundreds of species from extinction.”
Since the beginning of Earth Day, millions of people globally have been engaged in the environmental movement. This day has encouraged awareness about environmental atrocities and best practices, provided opportunities for civic engagement, and pushed organizations, companies, and government entities to prioritize the Earth.
Celebrating and Supporting Earth Day 2022
World Wildlife Fund highlights three focal areas:
Humanity’s challenge: Environmental changes affect all of us
The way we meet our needs today is compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs – the very opposite of sustainable development.
Humanity’s well-being and prosperity – indeed, our very existence – depends on healthy ecosystems and the services they supply: clean water, a liveable climate, food, fuel, and fertile soils. The challenge of providing everyone with the food, water, and energy they need is already a daunting prospect, and the human population is projected to swell to over 9 billion by 2050.
Protecting nature and using its resources responsibly are prerequisites for human development and well-being, and for building resilient, healthy communities.
Food, water, and energy: Our demands on nature are unsustainable and increasing
We cut trees faster than they mature, harvest more fish than the ocean can replenish, and emit more carbon into the atmosphere than forests and the ocean can absorb. In 2014, we used more natural resources in eight months than the planet can produce in 12 months. For the remainder of the year, we borrowed resources from future generations.
When we overburden one resource, the effects are felt elsewhere. Consider the links between food, water, and energy security. Their interdependence means that efforts to secure one aspect can destabilize others – attempts to boost agricultural productivity, for example, may lead to increased demands for water and energy inputs, and impact biodiversity and ecosystem services.
It’s a cycle: The way we meet our needs affects the health of ecosystems, and the health of ecosystems affects our ability to meet these needs. This is equally relevant for the poorest rural communities – who often rely directly on nature for their livelihoods – as for the world’s great cities, which are increasingly vulnerable to threats such as flooding and pollution as a result of environmental degradation.
One Planet Solutions: Better choices can be made, and practical solutions do exist
In a world where so many people live in poverty, it may appear as though protecting nature is a luxury. But it is quite the opposite. For many of the world’s poorest people, nature is a lifeline. Importantly though, we are all in this together. We all need nutritious food, fresh water, and clean air – wherever in the world we live.
Progress has been made in recent years in quantifying the financial value of the natural capital that underpins our economies and societies. Although any valuation of ecosystem services is a “gross underestimate of infinity,” such valuations can help make an economic case for conserving nature and living sustainably. WWF’s “One Planet Perspective” takes this a step further and outlines better choices for managing, using, and sharing natural resources within the planet’s limits.
The task is difficult, certainly, but not impossible – because it is in ourselves, who have caused the problem, that we can find the solution.
To get involved in Earth Day 2022 festivities, consider taking part in one (or more!) of the 52 ways to invest in our planet activities, ranging from buying local food to contacting your government representatives.