Today marks the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, held annually on April 22 to raise awareness about environmental health and protection. However, the Earth Day Network (EDN), which aims to educate and build environmental democracy, is already working on a big challenge for the day’s 50th celebration next year.
Earth Day began in 1970, thanks to then Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson. His intent was to create greater awareness of pollution and advocate for environmental protection after witnessing the damage and devastation from the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California — the largest U.S. oil spill at the time.
In recognition of Earth Day’s golden anniversary next year, EDN with support of the U.S. Department of State has launched Earth Challenge 2020 or EC2020, which is “a global citizen science initiative that shows how small digital acts can add up to global change.” EC2020’s aim is to collect at least one billion data points in areas including air quality, pollution, biodiversity, water quality, and human health.
EDN says that science volunteers around the world will learn about their local conditions in these areas, and leverage information to inspire collaborative action and influence important policy decisions.
“In 2020, we want to mobilize not only the biggest event action and activism by citizens but activism with a purpose,” said Kathleen Rogers, President of EDN. “That is what EC2020 is all about activating a global public to collect at least one billion data points to help answer some of the questions still puzzling science — on climate, air quality, water quality, and health,”
For each area of research, a team of scientists, educators, and citizens will also leverage existing projects and data sets to “answer” such questions and identify opportunities for new information and resources. The intent is to aggregate information and mobilize communities to address environmental and human health challenges.
EDN says that it asked for global input on what research questions should steer this project last year and received responses from all seven continents. The organization will announce the results of these themes at the UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment. In spring 2020, a mobile app and global data collection campaign will launch to collect the one-billion data points by Earth Day of that year.
Show your support
Although Earth Day serves an important marker and reminder of the importance of environmental health, ideally advocacy and support take ongoing efforts. Here are a few other initiative or ideas that support the climate and clean energy.
Join RE100. Companies joining RE100 set a public goal to source 100% of their global electricity consumption from renewable sources by a specified year.
Your voice matters. As part of the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) free Power of Wind advocacy network, members receive action alert emails from AWEA’s policy team regarding important renewables legislation in the U.S. Then, you can contact and recommend action from your local representatives.
Petition for change. The Action Works database keeps an ongoing list of open petitions in different cities, including those that support climate change. You can find those that matter most to you and sign for change.
Be the solution. The Solutions Project is committing 100% of its resources to elevate feminine leadership and frontline leaders of color who are working to make 100% clean energy a reality in their communities. Learn more here.
Commit acts of green. For Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020, the Earth Day Network is hoping to reach three billion acts of green — with your help. How? Commit earth-friendly acts, make more sustainable choices, reduce your carbon footprint. Check out A Billion Acts of Green for more ideas. More than 2,688,209,865 acts have been taken so far.
Here are a few other ideas. Happy Earth Day!