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Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970 and now includes events in more than 193 countries. Way out West looks at some of the key themes of this years Earth Day, as the global community continues to adapt to COVID-19 precautions.

On this national earth day, our current living situation is giving many of us a new relationship and appreciation for the great outdoors. Being cooped up at home all day, working from home and not being able to interact with many people means that people are appreciating daily walks, runs or cycles more than ever. For exercise, fresh air and mental health, getting out and about in our local areas is proving more and more important to people.

As such, maybe Earth Day has come at a good time to remind us of what needs to be done to protect the world we live in. When things return towards normality, what we decide to do next will have a big say on the environment in the future.

Today is fifty years since the first National Earth day. Ironically, many of the practices put in place to fight against Coronavirus have led to situations that many people campaigning in 1970 would have wished for. Coronavirus has led to reduced pollution, re-emerging wildlife and plunging oil prices. But while this may sound like a small positive amongst the pandemic, environmentalists today are quick to point out that it only serves to highlight the size of the task facing humanity.

Public health restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have resulted in a sharp dip in air pollution across China, Europe and the US, with carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels heading for a record 5% annual drop. Places like Venice have seen their water run clearer and nearly eight in 10 flights globally have been cancelled.

However, these weeks of dropping air pollution won’t make much of an impact if things return to what they were previously. COVID-19 has already overshadowed the story in terms of our yearly news, but the bush-fires that torched Australia earlier this year released more carbon than the country’s annual CO2 output, and conservationists warn that returning the world to its pre-pandemic settings will quickly wipe out any environmental benefits of the shutdown.

Clear Waters in Venice are one of the examples of how lock-down measures have helped parts of the environment, but environmentalists have been quick to point out that these small improvements only highlight the size of the task we’re faced with.

FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE WITH DIET CHANGE

Earth Day is also encouraging people to fight climate change with diet change, saying: What we eat has affects climate change and human health. But eating a plant-based diet and avoiding animal products relieves our planet of the burdens of animal agriculture, a huge contributor to ecological destruction and climate change. The Earth Day website encourages people to commit to removing meat from your diet at least one or two days per week.

Meat consumption has actually grown by 20% over the last ten years and as such is estimated to generate almost one-fifth of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, hich is more than the entire transportation sector. The Earth Day website suggests that eating one less burger per week would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.

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