WASHINGTON, DC, April 20, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – As Earth Day approaches its 50th anniversary in 2020, the Earth Day Network has set five major goals. Planting trees is the first; this year volunteers throughout the world plan to plant 7.8 billion trees.
The Earth Day Network’s 2016 Trees for the Earth campaign will focus on regions of the world most affected by deforestation. To achieve its goal of 7.8 billion trees planted, the Earth Day Network will work with partners from all levels of society, integrate trees into all of its existing campaigns, and create coalitions with national and subnational governments, mayors, faith leaders, businesses, and civil society across the globe.
Trees reverse the impacts of land degradation and provide food, energy, and income. They work as a natural, resilient, and long-lasting safety buffer to extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and blizzards, helping to avert the worst effects of climate change.
The Earth Day Network has already planted millions of trees on six different continents, and the longer the trees and forests grow undisturbed, the more powerful these protections become. Using sapling and seed distribution, urban forestry, agroforestry, and tree care training, the Earth Day Network has empowered both rural and urban people to conserve, repair, and restore trees to cover their lands.
“Earth Day is the largest, most recognizable face of the environmental movement,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network.
“Millions of people in dozens of different countries will become lifelong environmentalists this and every Earth Day. Hundreds of thousands will be children – our planet’s future,” said Rogers. “They will join the more than one billion people who already use Earth Day to focus on the urgent need to stabilize and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, fight climate change, act locally, become climate voters, and protect their children’s futures.”
Valuable as it is, tree planting is by no means the only global push planned for Earth Day.
This year, Earth Day coincides with the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at UN Headquarters in New York. The Agreement was adopted by all 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at COP21 in Paris on December 12, 2015.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomes the statement of China, this year’s President of the Group of 20, affirming the G20’s full support for the April 22 signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and calling for the accord’s entry into force as early as possible.
“The Secretary-General thanks China for its continued strong leadership in promoting global cooperation, grounded in ambitious national action, on climate change,” said Ban’s office in a statement.
More than 130 countries have confirmed their intention to sign the accord on April 22, and Ban is urging all other countries to join them in the signing ceremony.
Earth Day Network’s Rogers said, “We have no higher priority this year than to make sure the United States, China, India, the EU, and all the largest CO2 emitters sign the Paris Agreement.”
An Interfaith Climate Change Statement to World Leaders from 270 religious leaders supporting the Paris Agreement while also urging “much more ambitious action” was handed to the President of the UN General Assembly, Ambassador Mogens Lykketoft, at a high-level event on April 18.
Eminent signatories include: Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences of the Holy See; Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town the Most Rev. Desmond Tutu; and Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches.
The Interfaith Statement is supported by 86 groups of all faiths from around the world who have shown their support online by using the hashtag #Faiths4ParisAgreement.
Earth Day Network has launched a petition calling on world leaders, especially U.S. President Barack Obama, to show leadership by signing the Paris Agreement.
“We need to prove that what happened in Paris last December was not all talk. We need to take action. Signing the Paris Agreement this Earth Day at the United Nations is just the beginning,” Rogers said.
“That, coupled with our global activities, will make this the largest, most significant Earth Day in years,” she said. “And it’s the perfect start in our countdown to Earth Day 2020, our 50th!”
This Earth Day, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is inviting people around the world to share on social media what they are doing to celebrate and improve planet Earth, while the space agency shares aspects of a “day in the life” of NASA’s Earth science research.
In the brick and mortar world, NASA will feature Earth Day exhibits, hands-on activities, demonstrations and talks from NASA scientists, April 21 and 22 at Union Station in Washington, DC.
At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA activities will showcase sustainability, energy saving solutions and renewable energy. More than a dozen electric cars will be on display with test drives available. Master gardeners and pollinator specialists will answer questions and offer tips. And wildlife and natural conservation specialists will discuss methods to safeguard wildlife, preserve natural resources, and protect Florida waters
In South Korea, the Daegu Civilian Eco Festival features a race that pits teams against the clock navigating through a strip of downtown Daegu lined with Earth Day booths to complete 100 eco-missions in 90 minutes. Teams will go to assigned locations, complete an assigned task, take a cellphone picture of that task and send it to the organizers. The grand prize is the equivalent of US$525.
More than 120,000 people are expected gather in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park for Earth Day Tokyo, Japan’s largest global festival organized by citizens. Festivities began last Sunday and continue for the entire week. On April 23, at the Earth Day Concert, a wide variety of musicians and speakers will commit to peace and a positive future for the Earth this year.
Some Japanese are pledging to plant trees; others will work to make life better for the survivors of a series of earthquakes in the southern Japanese city of Kumamoto on April 14 and 16 that claimed at least a dozen lives.
In India, Earth Day Network sees the mandate of grassroots women leaders, or Panchayati Raj, as an opportunity to solve the most pressing environmental issues through a series of hands on educational workshops. Sample workshops include: the importance of growing more trees; spearheading movements against deforestation; advocating for clean alternative energies over fossil fuels; and conserving and building up natural resources.
Environmental groups large and small are making special efforts to celebrate Earth Day 2016.
Conservation International is releasing a new short film “Sky,” voiced by Chinese-American actress, director, screenwriter, and producer Joan Chen, the newest addition to its award-winning series “Nature Is Speaking.”
“We are pushing the Earth’s climate to its limits,” Chen said. “Climate change is drastically altering our planet, threatening not only the nature people rely on, but also people themselves.”
Earth Day may get people thinking about recycling, cutting back on driving or getting out into nature, but the Center for Biological Diversity is also asking them to think about saving the planet through safe sex.
The Center is distributing 25,000 free Endangered Species Condoms nationwide for Earth Day to highlight the connection between reproductive rights and the wildlife extinction crisis. The condoms will be given away by 300 volunteers at Earth Day events, rallies, and on college campuses in 46 states.
The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is credited with launching the modern environmental movement.
Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.
More than one billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
Featured image: Freshly planting pine seedling in a U.S. forest. (Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service) Public domain.
Main image: United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) sector leader Landing Badjie harvests the first cashew tree planted in war-torn Darfur in 2014. Since then, the UNAMID has distributed more than 15,000 seedlings to be planted in all schools in the state. (Photo by Abdulrasheed Yakubu, UNAMID) Creative Commons License via Flickr