Earth Day 2019: The reasons, significance behind Earth Day celebrations every 22 April

We need to talk about the environment today more than ever, what better a day to get the ball rolling?

Today is the 49th edition of International Earth Day. We, as a society, need to stop and wonder, why do we celebrate this day? Do we need such a day to exist? Is it important?

The US senator Gaylord Nelson, 49 years ago, decided that he needed to do something to bring the environment onto national news and into people’s mind. On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development. 20 million Americans took to the street to demonstrate their love for the planet and their demands for a cleaner and healthier Earth.

By the end of the year, The Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts were passed and the United States Environmental Protection Agency was created and 22 April 1970 was marked as a landmark, civic-focused day of action in the world.

Today, Earth Day is a global event, with over a billion people from 192 countries participating in the single-largest day of action in the world, according to Earthday.org. The day involves a mix of political action and civic participation where people march, sign petitions, plant trees and clean up towns and roads to accelerate work towards conservation and sustainability. Also celebrating the day's significance are corporations, governments and faith leaders.

Over the decades, global issues like climate change, deforestation, loss of habitats, wildlife trafficking and illegal poaching, unsustainable agricultural practices, pollution and pesticides have led to a lot of detrimental changes to the planet. There has been an unprecedented loss to the diversity of plant and wildlife directly linked to these causes. And while some of those changes are part of the cyclical changes that the planet goes through long-term, there is the undeniable role of human hands in driving the far-reaching impacts of climate change.

We may not be able to reverse the damage the past thousands of years have done, but creating new problems for current and future generations is something within our collective control. It's only a matter of civic, financial and political motivation to see these fixes through. This is the spirit and significance that is highlighted in Earth Day celebrations every year on 22 April.

Here are some of the other stories in our Earth Day 2019 series: 

Earth Day 2019: AI has a huge role to play in fulfilling sustainable development goals 

Earth Day 2019: We need to protect our species to prevent a global ecosystem collapse

Earth Day 2019: A world without insects is a world without fruit, coffee, and pizza 

Earth Day 2019: Understanding Project tiger, a homegrown conservation success story

Earth Day 2019: Migrations remind us we are one among a million other species looking to survive, sing and love

Earth Day 2019: Restored forests are often poor replacements for natural habitat 

Earth Day 2019: To solve the climate change crisis, we need a Global Deal for Nature

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