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Expert comment: Earth Day

Thomas Smyth Saturday 22 April 2017

As people across the globe celebrate Earth Day, Lecturer in Geography and Environmental Science Dr Thomas Smyth looks at the importance of environmental awareness.

On Saturday 22nd April, Earth Day will be celebrated in approximately 192 countries around the world by a series of events. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is a demonstration of support for environmental protection. Earth Day 2017’s focus is to increase citizens’ environmental and climate literacy, thereby raising awareness of the unprecedented threats the planet currently faces. By increasing our understanding of what is occurring on Earth, it is hoped more people will be inspired to take actions that will help protect our overexploited Earth.

As the global population grows towards an expected 9.7 billion people by 2050, the world’s temperatures continue to soar, and the world’s biggest economy reconsiders its commitments to tackling climate change, we as the individual can easily feel powerless to the degradation of our environment. Earth Day reminds us that we as a collective have the ability to change the world for the better. As part of Earth Day, more than two billion ‘Acts of Green’ have been recorded. From planting trees to eating less meat. In the UK during last 25 years, we have cleaned up our rivers, dramatically reduced our consumption of plastic bags and seen an increase in the number of many endangered species, such as the Corncrake.

All of us can take small steps that will help protect our local and global environment for future generations. Every piece of plastic produced will remain on the Earth forever, it’s easy to carry a reusable water bottle. Most disposable coffee cups aren’t recyclable and will end up in landfill, bring your own mug next time you’re going for a brew. Fresh fruit and vegetables from across the world produce unwanted carbon because of transport and refrigeration. Do your best to source local, seasonal produce or even try growing your own! 

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