Why is Earth Day Celebrated on April 22?

Earth Day T20 Yrobdo

Today’s the day when everyone spends at least five minutes to think about what this beautiful blue planet means to us and what we should do to preserve it.

That is the very ambitious goal of Earth Day.

Earth Day was first held back in 1970 to commemorate the complex natural ecosystem that is the world. Back then, about 20 million people took part. This year, over 1 billion people will contribute in their own small way. Some companies use it as an opportunity to host climate talks. Our founder, Simon Schillebeeckx, for instance will be joining a conversation with Lazada on the future of sustainable e-commerce.

Many companies take minor actions, such as switching off the lights for an hour or two (a practice popularised by Earth Hour which was on March 27 at 20:30). After that, it’s back to business as usual.

And that’s the problem.

2021 is on track to have the biggest ever year-on-year increase in carbon emissions. This will undo most of the emission reductions we achieved due to the pandemic. That’s no surprise and it’s a tell-tale sign of the work ahead of us to avoid catastrophic climate change.

April 22 was the chosen date back in 1970 since it was sandwiched between spring break and final exams. It also continued the observance of Arbor Day, a day when people are encouraged to plant trees. Much like the way the Catholic Church strategically places its religious remembrance days on Pagan holidays, Earth Day also coincides with an age-old tradition.

Since then, Earth Day has become a household name. It was no coincidence that UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon chose to sign the agreement on this day in 2016.

This year, Earthday.org is organizing 3 days of climate action online summits, workshops, panel discussions, and special performances on their website. The usual suspects are speaking at various digital events so it’s going to be pretty great for the environmentalists and ecological fundamentalists among us.

And this is perhaps the key challenge:

How do we make this Earth Day into one that broadens the group of people engaging in saving the planet?

The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Restore Our Earth”, a vision we at Handprint share and are working on a daily basis.

In the words of Earth Day President Kathleen Rogers, “Restoring Our Earth is about solving climate change through the world’s natural systems, such as regenerative agriculture practices and reforestation, as well as through existing and safe technologies.”

Actions to restore the planet will also challenge world’s leaders to support climate literacy and civic skill building. Rogers also notes that we can create a globally engaged and a green consumer movement this way.

Yes, she is right… but how are you going to convince one new person to start taking action?