The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, with more than 20 million Americans joining together to celebrate the world we call home. During previous Earth Days, we gathered in large groups to plant trees, clean up beaches, and host recycling drives in our neighborhoods. While we are social distancing and staying home this year, we can still celebrate what Earth Day represents in meaningful ways. In this spirit, we are offering several ideas and shout-outs below.
This year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also turning 50. EPA works hard to ensure a cleaner, healthier environment for all Americans. You can do your part by participating in EPA’s Trash Free Waters Program and making sure your trash goes into the right receptacle and that it isn’t overflowing. In addition, you can visit EPA’s AirNow.gov to see hourly air quality data from more than 60 U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. For more air quality resources, you can explore the Department of State’s air quality monitoring program, run by the Greening Diplomacy Initiative, here.
We want to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), too. In addition to weather forecasting and modeling, NOAA does incredible work on fisheries management, coastal restoration, and supporting marine commerce. In the spirit of Earth Day, NOAA recommends several simple actions you can take at home ranging from conserving water and choosing sustainable seafood to using energy efficient light bulbs.
The Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is also reaching a milestone this year, as we celebrate its 25th anniversary. GLOBE is an international science and education program that gives students a way to be citizen scientists and contribute directly to the global scientific project. In countries enrolled in the program, these citizen scientists use GLOBE curricula and protocols to learn about the scientific process, collect data, and even contribute their findings to further research. The program is sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with support from NOAA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of State. This year GLOBE is marking Earth Day with a retrospective video of their work in GLOBE participating countries.
Then there’s NASA. In honor of Earth Day, NASA is highlighting the agency’s contributions to improving our environment with online events, stories, and resources with its #EarthDayAtHome programming. You can log on to see astronaut Chris Cassidy, who just arrived at the International Space Station on April 9, 2020, answer questions live from the orbiting laboratory.
For more Earth Day content, you can follow the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs on social media at @ScienceDiplomacy_USA on Instagram; @SciDiplomacyUSA on Twitter; and @ScienceDiplomacyUSA on Facebook.
Earth Day is more than one day: it represents a reminder that individual actions taken every day can make a difference for future generations. This year, while we may be physically apart, we can still all come together at home to stay safe and celebrate Earth Day.
About the Author: Megan Goodrich serves as a Graphic Designer in the Office of Policy and Public Outreach in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.