Every year on April 22, people around the world stop to mark Earth Day, an opportunity to reflect on the impact of human activities on the planet and organize action to help clean it up. The day dates back to 1970, when 20 million people across the United States rallied together to fight pollution, an occasion that has been widely credited with launching the environmental movement (for more on the history of Earth Day, see this National Geographic article).
Below, we've rounded up three different ways to mark the day.
Make It Count For Earth Day
This year, Earth Day Canada has been encouraging Canadians to take action during the entire month of April with their Make It Count For Earth Day campaign, which breaks down the ways you can take part into four categories: Eat, Grow, Transform and Share. Participants can even keep track of their goals online over the course of the month to make a public commitment to keeping the planet green.
If you haven't been quite as on the ball throughout April, Earth Day Canada also has a ton of Earth Day events from across the country listed on their website, from the Be the Change Earth Day Festival in Vernon, BC to a screening of the climate change film Revolution in Sault Ste Marie, ON. Speaking of Revolution, director Rob Stewart (of Sharkwater fame) spoke to George about the film in season 9:
Bryan Pijanowski is a sound ecologist at Indiana's Purdue University, which means that he gets to travel the globe recording things like the sounds of crickets and frogs in an old-growth rain forest in Borneo. For Earth Day this year, his team has released an iPhone and Android app called Soundscape Recorder, which asks people to record the environment wherever they happen to find themselves on April 22, and upload it to a central database. “I’ve been on a campaign to record as many ecosystems as possible,” Pijanowski told Wired. “But there’s only so many places in the world I can be. I thought about how I could get more recordings into a database, and it occurred to me: We have a couple billion people on this planet with smartphones!”
After you record the sound around you, you'll be asked to fill out a short questionnaire about what you heard, and how the sounds make you feel. By recording the sonic environment each year on Earth Day, Pijanowski is hoping to track how our aural world is changing. “We should get a sense of whether and how we’re making this a noisier planet, which I think we’re doing,” he said.
Can a selfie help protect the Earth? Of course not. But with its #GlobalSelfie campaign, NASA is hoping to draw attention to the way the planet is changing. Indeed, the agency's current head Charles Bolden said today that "Climate change is the challenge of our generation" (Bolden echoes recent statements by senior retired U.S. military officials, who have warned people to prepare for a "climate change war").
Here's how today's campaign works: all across the world, people are taking photos of themselves and hashtagging them #GlobalSelfie on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Flickr. NASA will then take these photos and create a mosaic image of Earth built out of them. "On this Earth Day, we wanted to create a different picture of our planet — a crowd-sourced collection of snapshots of the people of Earth that we could use to create one unique mosaic of the Blue Marble," NASA explains on its website. The mosaic image and a making-of video will be released in May.