In the 50 years since the first Earth Day, the view from space has revolutionised our understanding of Earth’s interconnected atmosphere, oceans, freshwater, ice, land, ecosystems, and climate .
The brainchild of US Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was first launched in 1970, when around 20 million Americans took to the streets to protest for environmental reform after the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California; a catastrophe that led to the creation of landmark environmental laws and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The impact from humans on our world, who saw the Earth from space for the first time in 1946 from a V-2 rocket, has never been more evident than this year, as the global pandemic arising from the Covid-19 virus has forced many places around the world into lockdown.
Since restrictive measures have been introduced, skies have cleared of pollution, the peaks of the Himalayas are now visible from India for first time in 30 years, wildlife has returned to deserted streets, and oil prices have plunged below zero for the first time in history.
This years theme of Climate Action is therefore very apt. Although, plans for Earth day 2020 have been upended by the coronavirus crisis, people are turning enmasse to the internet to participate in virtual events and are being encouraged to do things to benefit the environment, from recycling and planting trees to reducing our carbon footprint.
An increase in carbon emission over the past few decades due to human activities, is a leading contender in rising global temperatures, an issue that could have severe impacts if the warming crosses 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, warns the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
If you’d like to join in, Earth Day Network will provide live coverage of the "global digital mobilisations" online, and other digital events include virtual protests, social media campaigns, online teach-ins and more. Find out more at earthday.org.
"Whether it be coronavirus or our global climate crisis, we cannot shut down,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. "Instead, we must shift our energies and efforts to new ways to mobilize the world to action."
Participants are also encouraged to share the hashtags #EarthDay2020 and #EARTHRISE "in a collective call for transformative action for our planet".