What does Earth Day mean?
It seems kind of ironic that on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020 we find ourselves in lock-down from a world pandemic due to Coronavirus Covid-19. I wanted to mark Earth Day with an article, as my Scuba Diving Blog is not just about scuba diving, but also about earth and the creatures that live in Planet Earth’s oceans.
What is Earth Day and why is it important? Earth Day is celebrated every 22nd April and has been so since 1970. Which means that Earth Day in 2020 was the 50th anniversary from when it began. The main aim of Earth Day is to raise awareness on the negative impact of our actions as mankind have on the environment and on Planet Earth as a whole.
This includes mankind’s impact on pollution, poaching and animal trafficking, deforestation, habitat loss, unsustainable agriculture and pesticides.
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world to demonstrate support for environmental protection in more than 193 countries.
What is the theme for Earth Day 2020?
Coronavirus has led to an unprecedented shutdown of airline flights and air pollution; the lock-down of people in their homes; the closing down of businesses; a huge reduction in traffic and pollution from car and other vehicle fumes.
But the question is; Will Coronavirus reduce emissions long term?
“Our analysis indicates that global emissions for 2020 will most likely go down by 2.1% compared to 2019 levels, given the current effects of COVID-19 on economies across the globe. That reduction represents an 8.3% decrease from what the emissions level might have been without a decline in economic activities in the first quarter. Despite this estimated reduction, the drop is well short of achieving a target of net zero emissions by 2050.”Climate Action – Will Coronavirus reduce emissions long term?
Each time I go for my daily walk near where I live, I listen to the sound of the birds singing.
I can’t help but think the birds are rejoicing in song at the reduced traffic in the skies above us and on the roads around us. They are singing with joy at less noise pollution and a reduction in the amount of pollution hitting the air.
It’s almost as if the birds are sitting in the tree-tops looking down on us and observing how we as humans have had to change.
Normally we humans don’t have to worry too much about most of nature’s dangers. Whereas birds and other animals are on a daily alert from predators and open to the elements.
But now it’s our turn to see what nature has to throw at us.
It’s worth remembering that ultimately Mother Nature is in charge
Whilst mankind thinks he’s in charge of what happens on Planet Earth, in reality it’s nothing of the sort. It’s worth noting that for now, Mother Nature is back in charge.
This is whilst mankind search around for a vaccine for Coronavirus to be able to get back to normal. And back in control…or so mankind thinks.
But what is normal and should we go back to how it was before? I doubt that normality will happen in the short term.
This pandemic has changed the way we think and I truly believe and I hope it will have an impact on what the new normal is or ends up being.
But because of what has happened, I think this the Coronavirus pandemic should be recognised as part of Earth Day.
Whilst the deaths are horrendous and my heart goes out to the families who have lost their loved-ones, it’s time to reflect on how this has affected us.
The enormous challenge ahead of everyone and world leaders to recover from the devastation the pandemic has caused financially is enormous.
But I’d like to look at the vast opportunities it has put in front of us to make those all important changes, but changes that benefit Earth.
Whilst action on climate change has been the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it is the lockdown due to Coronavirus-Covid-19 that’s had the biggest impact.
The impact of Covid-19 has been bigger than any rally or protest, any discussion that’s taken place on climate change or any government promise to help bring about a change to the climate.
Note should be taken by what has happened.
The benefits of Covid-19 lockdown
One of the celebrations for Earth day is some of the benefits from the Covid-19 lockdown. Here are a few examples:
- There are crystal clear canals and wildlife moving into the town of Venice. With the streets empty of tourists, the canals have benefited from the reduction in boat traffic are some of the benefits of lockdown.
- Cleaner air and increase visibility. No more smog in the big cities around the globe! You may not realise it, but citizens in northern India are seeing the view of the Himalayan mountain range for the very first time in their lives, which is due to the drop in air pollution caused by the Coronavirus lockdown.
- Reduced air pollution in big cities in the UK. Reduced levels of transport has seen a reduction in air pollution across the UK. Some of the larger cities have seen decreases of a third to a half in tiny particle pollution and similar decreases in Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.
- Animals have been seen in places where they’ve not been seen for years. For example in Vancouver’s north shore a pod of killer whales were seen for the first time in 59 years!
Video of some of the benefits to Earths waterways
The empty streets see wild-boar running along empty roads; Traffic-less canals in Venice are clear and swarming with fish; Dolphins arrive in the port of Sardinia.
How about wild goats along the streets of Llandudno in Wales; Nubian Ibexes on the pavements of Israel; A wild Puma on the pavement of Santiago, Chile; Wild Coyote wandering the streets of San Francisco; The sighting of a Civet cat on a zebra crossing in Kerala, India.
Watch this video to see these and other amazing changes due to the Coronavirus-Covid-19 lockdown:
Perhaps these videos are a glimpse of what might be if humans disappeared from Planet Earth!
What was the theme for Earth Day 2019?
The theme for Earth Day 2019 was about “Protecting Our Species“. It aimed to draw attention to the rapid extinction of species in our world today. The rapid extinction of species is directly linked to human activities.
Ironically and sadly, the work done by many good people to help reduce poaching may be undone by a virus. This may result in an increase of the extinction of species by human activity in a way that was not envisaged.
This 2019 theme was highlighted to me when I watched an interview with a park ranger only yesterday.
It was filmed in South Africa where he was watching over a new baby rhino, borne only this week (i.e. April 22 2020 week).
Whilst on the one hand poaching has declined and is a good thing, this was partly due to the reduced numbers of rhinos to poach and kill.
However, due to the world Coronavirus pandemic funds have been stopped or reduced significantly. These funds are needed to fund the rhino’s protection.
The loss of protection funds may result in an increase in poaching. This would be a tragic outcome from the pandemic and I hope doesn’t happen.
Another reason for reflection on 2020’s Earth Day.
In addition to trafficking and poaching, the other aspects included in the theme for the 2019 Earth Day included climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, unsustainable agriculture, pollution, and pesticides.
These still need to be highlighted in 2020 too.
What can you do for Earth Day
The National Ocean Service posted the ten simple things you can do for Earth Day, which include three top things you can do:
- Reduce, reuse and recycle: Think about how and what you buy and how and what you throw away. This way you conserve natural resources and reduce landfill.
- Conserve water: Conserving water has a lasting impact on Planet Earth. Less water used will reduce run-off which means less waste-water ends up in the oceans.
- Shop wisely and choose sustainability: Where you can buy products with less plastic packaging and check the labels to make sure the food has been sourced from good sustainable places.
To see the other items of the NOAA’s website, click on the above link.
I hope you enjoyed this article about what is Earth Day and why is it important
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Have fun and be safe!