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What is #EarthDay and why do we care?

Today we celebrate #Earthday2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and the day the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. Oof, that's a bunch of stuff on one single day!

We celebrate the 22nd of April because it marks the day the modern environmental movement started back in 1970. It was the day 20 million Americans took to the streets to protest against the human-induced breakdown of the environment. A moment in which different interest groups - against war, oil spills, polluting factories, toxic dumps, loss of wildlife- to come together based on their shared environmental values. People from different political convictions, social status and sectors joined forces to show how much they cared about the environment. Earth Day became the largest civic event at that time.

Even though the movement started in the United States as a national movement, Earth Day went global in the 1990s. This time, over 200 million people joined in over 141 countries. Earth Day 2000 marked a special one, as it turned Earth Day into the digital era. The highlight being a drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa. Today, over a billion people each year get involved to show support for environmental issues, including climate change, resulting in local, national and global policy change.

To give you an idea of the impact of this first big activist move, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was created as a direct result; several environmental laws, such as the Health Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Fungicide, were passed. Earth Day paved the way for 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro; projects such as A Billion Acts of Green and the Canopy Project were launched engaging the public in climate action; and Earth day marks the birthday of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The theme of #Earthday2020 is climate action. Climate change is the biggest challenge humanity is facing, yet taking action seems to be difficult for us. With us being in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic, taking the streets to demand action is impossible. As such, civil society organisers are flooding digital media with online conversations, positive acts, performances, webinars and events. All digital events officially registered on earthday,org can be found here. However, since there are so many, we have picked out a few for you to participate in:

Earth Challenge 2020 app: this is the biggest citizen science initiative in the world. The app helps you gather critical environmental data on the air quality and plastic pollution around you. This data will help scientists and activist organisations gather proof and stay on top of developments. Find it in the app store.

BreatheLife concert: Grammy-winning musicians perform on Earth Day to support the WHO and COVID 19 Solidarity Response Fund. Register online to wtiness people like Lonnie Park, Laura DIckinson and Wouter Kellerman share their magical talents with us.


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