Ashleigh Written by

Final Year

BSc (Hons) Geography

COVID-19 has changed our lives, from how we work to how we interact with each other and everything in between. In the midst of these uncertain times however remains annual Earth Day happening on the 22nd of April, uniting millions around the globe to inspire action against climate change and environmental damage. Earth Day 2020 will mark the occasions’ 50th anniversary, so what better time to get involved and celebrate (digitally of course)?! This year’s theme is climate action, and with the current climate change occurring 20-50 times faster than any of the most rapid climate change events in Earth’s history, it seems like the way to go.

While the world continues to work tirelessly to deal with the devastating events of COVID-19, the Earth is healing. The nationwide shutdown caused by the pandemic has led to unprecedented drops in air pollution across UK major cities, with researchers estimating toxic pollutant levels to fall even further as traffic remains of the roads and the Earth continues to rest. The Guardian reports that particulate matter pollution (commonly released from traffic exhaust emissions) and nitrogen dioxide (mainly released by combustion of fossil fuels) has fallen by approximately a third to a half in London, Birmingham, Bristol, and Cardiff.

In light of Earth Day, we can start to think about how we can maintain the positive environmental impacts that the current situation has had on our planet. Driving less, for example, is one idea. As stated above particulate matter is a product of exhaust and traffic-related emissions, which is why there has been such a drastic reduction. Of course, when lockdown is lifted, we will be raring to go, and it will be nice to be behind the wheel again. But even picking one day a week where you only walk or use public transport, or just car-sharing to get around would work wonders for our healing planet!

Even something as small as changing your diet to be slightly more vegetarian or vegan could have a huge impact on climate change if enough people do it. This could be done by eating meat only on certain days of the week or switching dairy milk to almond, oat, or soya alternatives.

Reducing consumption of energy is also a big one, simple things like switching off lights when not in use, unplugging devices that don’t need to be plugged in, and even using shorter wash cycles for your clothes will make a difference.

You can get involved on Earth Day by attending one of the many Earth Day events organised by activists all over the world. These include live events across Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube and include online activities and presentations as well as streaming planetarium shows… all from the comfort of your own home!

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