Earth Day 2021 Urges Humankind to ‘Restore Our Earth’
First held on April 22, 1970, the annual event of Earth Day has become a staple in demonstrating a united front in support of environmental protection. Each year the global community comes together to focus on climate literacy, environmental justice, and youth-fed climate-focused issues. Earth Day 2021 aims to focus on these various pressing ecological issues.
Despite all the talk of the “nature healing” when nations around the world went into lockdowns, the fact is that global carbon emissions are now back at above pre-pandemic levels.
Considering that carbon emissions need to be dramatically reduced by an estimated 45 percent by 2030 to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, it has become imperative to address this issue with extreme commitment and stringency.
Earth Day 2021
First celebrated 51 years ago, when flocks of people came together in the United State to speak up and demand cleaner air and water. In 1990, the event became global with 200 million people in 141 countries sharing their views about comprehensive ecological concerns.
Earth Day has since transformed into a day meant to raise awareness about environmental issues through a wide variety of activities ranging from conferences and panel discussions to global cleanup events, organized via Earthday.org. The event brings people from all walks of life together to clean litter, plant trees, or simply reflect on the beauty of nature.
While most years, Earth Day events range from river cleanups to removal of invasive plants, with social distancing still in place for many countries in 2021, the event has gone digital. Many virtual events, such as environmental lectures and films are scheduled to take place for the day.
The theme for Earth Day 2021 is ‘Restore Our Earth’ and features five key programs: the Canopy Project, Food and Environment, Climate Literacy, the Global Earth Challenge, and the Great Global CleanUp.
According to the president of EarthDay Organization, Kathleen Rogers,
This Earth Day comes with an important opportunity to challenge our leaders to commit to climate action on a global scale. We are at the edge of a cliff – if we don’t act now to reduce carbon emissions, there will be no way back.
This year, the organizers are calling for three days of climate action from April 20 to 22. The event is aimed to emphasize serious environmental issues that threaten various species – including climate crisis to air pollution and deforestation.
For Earth day 2021, US president Joe Biden has requested 40 world leaders to take part in a virtual summit on April 22 and 23 to stress the urgency for resilient climate action.
A global youth summit on April 20, featured panels, speeches, and discussions with young climate activists, that included Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Villasenor, and Licypriya Kangujam. The ‘We Shall Breathe’ virtual summit examined climate and environmental justice, connecting the climate crisis to issues of pollution, poverty, police brutality, and the coronavirus pandemic.
Restore Our Earth
The theme for Earth Day 2021 is rather fitting – ‘Restore Our Earth.’
The planet has been barreling toward an impending doom with ecosystem destruction, rising global temperatures and rapidly changing climatic conditions all of which have impacted the earth and its inhabitants severely.
The theme not only focuses on the necessity to reduce humankind’s impact on the planet as the species recover from the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, but also on how to repair the damage caused to the planet and the fellow species.
Climate change has become one of the focal points of the environmental movement – so has ecosystem restoration, wildlife conservation, and biodiversity preservation. The theme rejects the notion that only mitigation and adaptation are the ways to address climate change. It also emphasizes supporting local and marginalized communities and areas that are disproportionately affected by ecological issues.
A deep, hard look at natural processes, green technologies, and innovative thinking is essential to make a lasting and transformative impact to restore the world’s collapsing ecosystems.
Earth Day aims to change humankind’s behavior and provoke policy changes so the environmental damages can be repaired. Its mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement, worldwide.
John Oppermann, executive director of the Earth Day Initiative, said,
With each passing day, the urgency for climate action grows, and we are running out of time. This is a pivotal year for our global community to acknowledge and respect the science of climate and COVID.
A Pivotal Year
The last decade has been a devastating one for the planet and all its inhabitants. Almost every region of the earth saw overwhelming destruction through natural and man-made calamities, ravaging wildfires, relentless deforestation, and record-breaking temperatures, collapsing ecosystems, marine life choking on plastic pollution and overfishing, and so on.
Ecosystems support all life on the planet – the healthier the ecosystems are, the healthier the planet and its people. Restoring the damaged biomes will help humankind in many ways including eliminating poverty, tackling climate change, and stopping mass extinction.
Taking all the destruction into account, this year is pivotal for environmental conservation. What must be done for the planet’s survival has to be done now, before it’s too late to do anything.
Notwithstanding the ongoing conservation efforts, biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide at unprecedented rates. It has been estimated that around one million animal and plant species are presently threatened with extinction.
The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which will be officially announced with World Environmental Day 2021, has been mapped to help stop, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and every ocean.
But making honest and committed efforts for ecosystem restoration is the only way for the survival of life on the planet.
Three Days of Climate Action – What about the Rest of the Year?
Although the event provides a great platform to raise awareness about various ecological issues, it is essential to uphold the commitments made on Earth Day to protect the environment throughout the year.
We, humans, have the tendency to mark one day in the year to celebrate something, while the rest of the year we do not even validate the presence of that said something – and our planet, which we address as Mother earth, is no exception.
Reducing our carbon footprint and plastic consumption, preserving oceans and marine life, increasing forest cover, species conservation, and pulling the reins on climate change and global warming are the crucial elements to take care of.
The recent launch of Google Earth’s Timelapse feature exhibits the horrific changes upon earth, brought by various anthropological activities in the past four decades. Using millions of satellite images from the past 37 years, the feature allows people to scroll through time to see the shocking alterations in ecosystems.
The feature has not only given glimpses of ecological destruction, but it has also provided the motive to keep fighting for the safety of the environment.
So vow to help restore our planet earth!