Make every day Earth Day

People across the globe will gather to celebrate clean air, land and water on April 22

By on April 17, 2018

Megan Lowe | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
Earth day is an annual event that is celebrated worldwide in an effort to sustain the life of the planet. It was first introduced in 1970 and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. Earth Day is now observed by one billion people in 192 countries, including Denmark, England, Japan, Canada and Johannesburg, South Africa.

U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, came up with the idea of an Earth Day after he saw massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. The 1969 Santa Barbara spill poured approximately 3-million gallons of crude oil into the ocean, killing thousands of birds, fish and sea mammals, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He was inspired by the student anti-war movement and realized he could use that energy to raise awareness about the current air and water pollution. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans rallied across the nation for a healthy and sustainable planet. They chose April 22 because it fell in between spring break and final exams, according to the Earth Day Network website.

By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts were passed.

Since Earth Day, people have become more aware of the role they play in protecting the environment— which in reality, is a very fragile thing. Since the very first Earth Day in 1970, practicing recycling has become a regular activity. But recycling is just one of the many ways to be eco-friendly.

Although, many nations have made immense progress when it comes to caring for the environment, there are still many things that pose a threat to nature.

Rainforests once covered 14 percent of the Earth’s land surface. Today that number has dropped to a mere six percent, according to the Tropical Rainforest Coalition. Experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.

A new climate change study reported by the Guardian states that unless global fossil fuel output is substantially curbed soon, by the mid twenty-first century human beings will have achieved a climate change rate not seen for the past 50 million years, back when the Ice Age came to an end. The effects of this unprecedented rise in temperature continue to be felt across the globe.

The polar bears certainly feel it, as the number of polar bears is shrinking as the temperature increases. It is believed that there are only 20 to 25 thousand polar bears left living in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature reports that the ice cap is predicted to completely melt within the next 100 years, leaving these creatures without a home.

In this day and age of constant and instant information, people are beginning to understand the consequences of their actions and the impact they have on the world. Earth Day is important because it educates people about what they have and what they are losing by acting in ways that are not environmentally friendly or energy efficient. This day serves as a reminder of everything that can be done to take action before it’s too late.

According to the EPA, the average family can waste 180 gallons of water per week or 9,400 gallons annually from household leaks alone. Nationwide, a household can waste up to nearly 900 billion gallons of water annually.

This year the Earth Month Network has developed this year’s theme as “Plastic Pollution.”

Plastic is a material made to last forever even though most of it is used once and then thrown away. It also doesn’t biodegrade, which makes it pile up in the environment.

“Americans alone discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year; only eight percent of it gets recycled,” according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) website. “The rest ends up in landfills or becomes ‘litter,’ and a small portion is incinerated.”

Dev Soni
There are tens of thousands of landfills across the globe and buried beneath them are plastic toxins seeping into the groundwater and flowing into lakes and rivers. Plastic also threatens animals. According to the PPC, even plankton are ingesting microplastics and absorbing their toxins. When plastic falls into environments where animals live, it can result in entanglement, ingestion and habitat disruption. Plastic debris outweighs zooplankton in our ocean by a ratio of 36-to-1.

Member of the Quinnipiac Sustainability committee, Kimberly Palencia, is hoping to get more students involved in the occasion.

“Students have such great energy,” Palencia said. “That’s why I love working here and being around them. I was a student years ago too, and I remember the passion and motivation that would drive me to do things and we never lose that but sometimes everyday life, school work— or for me work— can deviate us from remembering what’s important. We have a lot of important things in our lives, our family, friends, our well-beings.”

As Palencia works to get students involved in making the planet a better place, the Sustainability Committee will be having an Earth Day Fair on the Quad on April 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We all live on the same planet and it’s important that we also take time to make sure that when we are busy doing the everyday things we are all doing, that we make decisions that don’t impact it negatively,” Palencia said. “We can really make small changes, each one of us, that can really make a difference.”

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