What is Earth Day?
The 22nd of April is Earth Day every year, and this year will mark fifty years since it first began. It aims to bring the world together in response to the environmental crises which affect Earth every year. The first Earth Day, back in 1970, is credited with being the launch of the modern environmental movement.
Back then, millions of Americans took to the streets to protest in favour of environmental reform after an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969. Soon after the very first Earth Day, the U.S. passed the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
How will Earth Day look this year?
Perhaps this year’s 50th anniversary is a little more poignant, too. This year’s event will be the first Digital Earth Day, and with approximately 20% of the world’s population in lockdown, not only has the coronavirus spread been suppressed, but Earth has had a break from our polluting behaviour, too.
For example, with most of us stuck at home working, the kids aren’t in school and shops, pubs and restaurants are closed, car use has fallen dramatically. Plus, with airlines grounded, unless for essential travel we can no longer fly to warmer climates. That means that the level of toxic air pollutants is dropping, so too are greenhouse gases.
In China, satellites showed that the cloud of nitrogen dioxide which blanketed the country almost just disappeared in February. And this effect has been seen in other countries where emissions have fallen dramatically, like in Italy and the UK.
Nitrogen dioxide is an irritant. When inhaled, it can irritate the lungs and increase the risk of asthma or inflammation of these vital organs. Although it’s not believed to be a major contributor to climate change, it does allow scientists to see how other greenhouse gases that trap heat may be behaving.
Venetians are reporting clear water in their canals and fish now easily identifiable. Italy’s response to the pandemic was swift, boat traffic into the city diminished and the changes came quickly.
That’s not all. With places of interest like National Parks, even local parks, now almost uninhabited, wildlife and wildflowers are thriving, perhaps even the grass looks greener! We have all been forced to behave a little differently, with more care for each other and our surroundings, which will no doubt, change how we live our lives in the future when the restrictions are lifted and the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a revelation for us all; it’s shown us how life can be brought to a standstill almost overnight, taught us how precious our loved ones are and how we take the planet we call home for granted. Earth Day is a good time to reflect on how we can move forward, change some of our damaging behaviours and help to heal the environment around us.
The environment is at the heart of our mission. This Earth Day why not tag us in your Earth Day-themed pictures on Instagram @hydratem8? Perhaps, you’ve seen a robin in your back garden or made toys and dens with the kids from bits around the house or perhaps you’ve started growing fruit and veg, whatever it is we’d love to see it!