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April 16, 2020 4 min read

by Jesmar Arevalo

 

The Earth is our spaceship, and it has no replacement. That’s how important this planet must be thought of by us. In this vein, Earth Day arises to remind us of several issues we need to consider. The initiative started in 1960 when people noticed the effect pollution was having in North America.

From that moment, the struggle to start taking actions and make a difference began. But it wasn’t until 1970 when U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed April 22nd as Earth Day. So, it took a decade before people started to celebrate this date officially. And it has taken even more time and effort to become the movement able to raise its voice and be heard globally.

The first big environmental warning came in 1969, after a chemical fire on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River. This unfortunate event revealed a big chemical waste disposal problem that no one was taking care of until that moment. At that time, politicians weren’t thinking about protecting natural resources, and there were a minimal number of activists dedicated to making people conscious of large-scale issues. Even those factories that actively contributed to air and water pollution didn’t face many legal consequences.

Earth Day has opened a window for people to shout out loud about these environmental issues. The idea is not only to create a collective conscience but to take actions that help to protect our planet. Some achievements have included recycling and even setting some strict laws that have forced factories to change their manufacturing methods to comply with eco-friendly practices.

Several things have changed from the first year people commemorated Earth Day. Despite that, it is still not entirely true to say the green movement is a worldwide or even a nationwide phenomenon. Yes, there are activists and people volunteering all over the world that care about this, but they have yet to reach the percentage of the population needed to make permanent change.

Nowadays, we are facing a situation that affects us all. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to pause in our daily life. We have confronted pandemics before, but the world was a different place 100 years ago when “The Spanish Flu” hit. So yes, there is previous knowledge we can apply, but there are also greater challenges ahead.

In this context, most manufacturers all over the world had to minimize their operating levels, and others had to be shut down completely. Just 2 months later, we’ve started to see some incredible changes in nature. Suddenly, it was possible to see the bottom from the Venezia’s canals, and it was even possible to see some dolphins happily swimming there. Some cities started to register wild animal life taking over the streets.

So, while humans are worried about this pandemic threat, wild animals are happy and enjoying the freedom this lockdown provides for them. Unfortunately, animals that depend on humans to feed them, like those in the zoos or the ones located at parks or in some “natural” artificial areas within the cities, are not living with the same luck.

Activists have tried to warn the world about the degradation of the ozone layer and its direct consequences. However, after three months of confinement in China, the positive impact on this issue became evident. Lately, it has been reported the hole in the ozone layer we have been warned of for many years, has shrunk to 1/3 of its initial size of that before COVID-19 pandemic started. We haven't seen a similar event before and this must be interpreted correctly.

Earth is sending a clear message, and we should pay attention and listen carefully. We must understand we are not alone on this planet, and while it is true we can´t just stop living, there must be things we can do. Guess what? There are!

I know you must be thinking big industries are the ones affecting the environment the most, and we can’t control it. But, if we all decided to offer our humble contribution to nature, it would make a profound difference.

The real challenge here is to find a balance between our regular lifestyle and an Eco-friendly way of living. We probably have some activities in our routine that don’t match that criterion without even realizing it. You can consult the Earth day official website and get more information on how to start taking action.

You could also start by joining a cleanup or climate strike, to take part in the world’s largest citizen science initiative, or even host an event in your community!

EarthDay.org is a non-profit worldwide organization created for this purpose. They are focused on raising awareness of the importance of caring for our planet and the challenges this implies for each of us who live on it.

 This being 2020, the Earth Day organization is preparing to commemorate its 50th anniversary, and the theme they have chosen is climate action. They know it would be defiant to run this event considering this global crisis but also recognize the vast opportunities this anniversary year offers.

People are trying to keep up to date but are experiencing a kind of shock with all the changes they are living.  There is no better time to discuss the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. In that mood, the world’s largest civic event will move to the digital world for the very first time, and the expectations are high. It’s all set to raise our voices and demand political and social leaders to choose the right path.

The information politicians need to help make the right decisions for our future is available. Scientific knowledge has always been available, and the ways things have evolved have proved scientists were right. The problem is to get leaders to listen and to be able to think beyond their political careers.

Hopefully, the great shock that this pandemic has given us will help change our course of action. There’s still time to do things right! This is our home, and we have no other!


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