Honesty Group

Earth Day 2021: Restore Our Earth

The theme for Earth Day 2021 is aptly named, ‘restore our earth’. We are at a point in time where the effects of climate change are becoming irreversible, and Earth Day is a day that’s dedicated to appreciating the planet we live on, recognising our faults, our contribution to climate change, and sharing all the ways in which we, as communities and a population, can help.

The theme for Earth Day 2021 is aptly named, ‘restore our earth’. We are at a point in time where the effects of climate change are becoming irreversible, and Earth Day is a day that’s dedicated to appreciating the planet we live on, recognising our faults, our contribution to climate change, and sharing all the ways in which we, as communities and a population, can help.

What’s Happening?

Climate change is happening all over the world, but its effects are amplified in the polar regions; this is because melting ice speeds up climate change. Ice reflects sunlight, in comparison to water, which absorbs it; so when the arctic ice melts, the water surrounding it absorbs sunlight and heats up as a result. This therefore increases the Earth’s temperature, melting more ice, and the never ending cycle of global warming continues. Oceans are also vital in regulating our climate, they are considered to be ‘carbon sinks’ as they absorb 25% of the carbon dioxide that humans release into the air. This prompts a process called ‘ocean acidification’, which has devastating effects on marine organisms including coral and plankton, both vital parts of the food chain. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that if the planet warms by more than 2 degrees, then most ecosystems will struggle, including our own. Just a 1.5 degree rise could put 20-30% of species at risk of extinction. At the rate it is currently increasing, climate change is happening too rapidly for species to adapt, resulting in mass extinction.

Effects of Climate Change in the UK

Climate change is causing temperatures to rise throughout the whole of the UK; the 10 hottest years have all been since 2002. By 2050, heatwaves like that seen in 2019 are likely to happen every other year. It also makes heavy rainfall far more likely according to the met office; with the UK seeing 7 of the 10 wettest years on record since 1998.

Even if we do reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels around the UK will continue to rise which, as an island, will put many parts of the UK at risk of flooding, particularly coastal cities. Farming in the UK will also be affected with the hotter weather and higher levels of carbon dioxide, making the growth of some crops increasingly difficult. The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment is published every 5 years, which we encourage people to read.

What is Making a Difference?

The Paris Agreement was a groundbreaking international treaty set up in 2016. It’s goal is to stop the world’s average temperature rising more than two degrees, which we are currently not on track to hit. It commits most of the world’s governments to addressing climate change and is the world’s first comprehensive climate treaty. It’s effectiveness may be questionable, but a governmental policy committed to forcing action all around the world is a huge step into recognising the severity of global warming. A few examples of pledges made: the UK to cut 68% of emissions by 2030, a step backwards was Donald Trump removing America from the Paris Agreement, however the Biden Administration has recently rejoined the agreement with new commitments expected soon.

Responsible reforestation projects are dedicated to creating healthier habitats and soil whilst increasing food security and local economic benefits. Some notable mentions are the Eden Reforestation Project which reduces extreme poverty and restores healthy forests by employing local people to plant millions of trees every year, and the Canopy Project (run by Earth Day), which is carried out by local communities and all benefits from the planted trees go to support the people who care for them.

Earth Day runs a climate and environmental literacy campaign that aims to give children a quality education to develop them into ‘informed and engaged environmental stewards’, all in an effort to promote climate literacy. Climate literacy can be defined as: the understanding of human impact on climate and the impact of climate on human systems, Earth Day states that climate literacy is the key to a greener future.

Experts predict that due to soil being lost 10 times faster than it can be replenished, there may be fewer than 60 harvests remaining for agriculture and food production. But there is a solution to this – regenerative agriculture. What is regenerative agriculture? It is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds and enhances ecosystems and services. It is described as one of the most effective solutions for farmers to reverse climate change and to promote food security by rebuilding organic carbon. It also directly benefits the farmers due to its ability to increase crop yield and produce high-quality, nutrient rich crops that drive food production, create healthy communities and boost farmers’ incomes.

What can you do?

Most importantly would be to take civic action. Sign petitions, pledge to support climate change and climate literacy (both can be found on the Earth Day website). Advocate for climate change at your local university, write a letter asking for action to your local MP – put on the pressure and demand action, only then can we get change. The next step would be community action; this could be as simple as putting a recycle sign up to actively collecting and responsibly disposing of rubbish in your local community. Take action and refuse the plastic straw or cup, and rally for change. Finally individual action – most of the responsibility relies on large corporations and governmental policies, however there are a few things that we can do as individuals to help prevent climate change. For example; our food system accounts for more than a quarter of ALL greenhouse gas emissions, making animal agriculture one of the largest contributors to climate change. Incorporating plant-based meals into your diet could help to reduce these emissions. Ultimately – volunteer with Earth Day! Get involved and spread awareness, together we can bring about change and secure the future of our planet and our lives.

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