Each year, people around the world take part in “Earth Day,” a global day of action for climate change and saving the planet we all know and love.
Earth day is on 22nd April 2019, and this year marks the 49th anniversary. The event now takes place every year and has become a global success.
On Earth Day 2016, the “Paris Agreement” was signed by over 120 countries and is an agreement between a number of countries with an aim to decrease global warming, climate change and lower greenhouse gas emissions. It is the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement.
When did it start?
The first Earth Day was on 22nd April 1970 and was held in the United States of America. Levels of smog were rising due to years of industrial development. People realized we needed to make a change.
The aim of the day was to provoke policy changes and change human behaviour in an attempt to help improve our environment.
The first Earth Day was a great success and is now recognized worldwide. The New York Times estimate that 100,000 people took part in Earth Day events in 1970.
Each year, a number of events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. More than 190 countries partake in the events held globally and each year has a different theme.
This year – 2019
This year’s theme is “Protect Our Species.”
According to scientists, there are an estimated 8.7 million species on Earth, with 16,306 of those at risk of extinction. It is estimated that a further 0.01% to 0.1% of all species become endangered each year. Without some of these animals, our planet would not function in the same way it does today.
In 2018 alone, the following animals became extinct:
Po’Ouli – a Hawaiian bird
Alagoas Foliage Cleaner and Cryptic Treehunter – Brazilian birds
Spix’s Macaw – a Brazilian macaw
White Rhino – the final male white Rhino died, leaving only females behind, unable to reproduce
Vaquita – a relative of the dolphin
These animals are all found in other countries and continents, but we have a species right here in the UK that is endangered and needs our help to survive.
By transferring pollen between flowering plants, Bees keep our plants going. They help plants grow and produce food. Most of the plants we need for food rely on pollination and without the bees, we have a problem. From coffee to vanilla, apples to pears, we need bees more than we may realise during our day to day life.
We also need bees for the clothes we wear. Cotton plants are pollinated by bees. Without them, no more cotton.
In addition, Bees pollinate around 80% of wildflowers through Europe, so without them, our continent would look a lot less beautiful than it does with them around.
In the UK alone, more than 250 species of bee have been recorded (around 270 to be more precise) and only 1 of them is the Honeybee.
According to a study, “More than 90% of the leading global crop types are visited by bees.”
– Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
When a bee pollinates a flower, it uses little hairs on its legs to collect pollen. It then takes the pollen over to another flower and back to their hives. Because of industrial agriculture, a number of pesticides and fungicides get caught on the bee’s hairs. There is a link between certain fungicides and pesticides which makes the bees more vulnerable to a parasite called Nosema parasite.
97% of flower-rich meadows have been lost since the 1930’s, according to Friends of the Earth.
What can I do to help?
Small changes in the way we do things can help make a big difference to our planet, such as choosing to eat organic fruit and veg, which has not been covered in the harmful pesticides, or creating a “bee hotel” in your garden.
There is actually a petition to ask the government to reduce the use of pesticides, which you can still sign.
You can read more about Earth Day on the official Earth Day website.