Earth Day is one of the most important days on the calendar for everyone who’s passionate and dedicated to helping the environment, its wildlife, its eco-systems and the projects making a genuine difference.
Earth Day began in 1970 and is commonly known as the birth of the ‘modern environmental movement'. In 1969, an oil well off the coast of Santa Barbra blew and made headlines everywhere. Beaches were stained black, and thousands of birds and marine wildlife were killed.
After witnessing this tragedy Senator Gaylord Nelson and Denis Hayes, a young student activist, worked together to gather support from university campuses.
After giving the movement the name 'Earth Day', there was an immediate change in the response from national media outlets. It became widespread and a household name, inspiring 10% of the American population to take to the streets, parks, museums and government buildings in protest.
In a rare political alignment, Earth Day received support from "Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and farmers, business and labour leaders".
The Earth Day movement has only grown more extensive and more powerful as the years have gone by. Earth Day 2022’s theme is about investing in our planet and encouraging citizens, governments and businesses to dedicate time and resources to protecting the earth.
We thought about telling you all the things you could do today to invest in the environment; throw in some statistics to show how badly affected the environment is by human activity. However, we know you'll see a lot of that today and rightly so. However, today is also about celebrating and highlighting the amazing things that people have achieved, the massive positive changes the world has seen over the past few years and future plans for success.
So we’d like to share some of our favourite global achievements we’ve seen over the past year.
It's sad but true that many of the world's most fascinating and beautiful creatures are on the brink of extinction. However, thanks to colossal conservation efforts, many of these creatures we've feared losing are no longer on the endangered list.
In the mid-1990s, there were only 37 breeding pairs of Red Kites in southern England. Thirty years after reintroducing them back to England, nearly 2,000 breeding pairs of red kites are soaring over every English county in one of the most successful reintroduction projects in the world.
Due to this great success, the government is now hoping for the same victory with the white-tailed eagles reintroduced last year, with beavers and storks to follow shortly.
Another animal making a solid comeback is China's giant pandas. While still vulnerable, they are no longer on the endangered species list, and their classification has been downgraded as their number in the wild has reached 1,800. This great turnaround is due to fantastic conservation efforts, including expanding their natural habitats.
They are still vulnerable, and therefore conservation efforts cannot end, but this highlights the importance and impact of conservation efforts.
Humpback whales have been removed from Australia's threatened species list, too. Once on the brink of extinction, they have seen a remarkable improvement in their numbers. Due to the whaling industry, there were as few as 1500 humpback whales in Australian waters; there are now believed to be as many as 40,000 individuals. A recent study estimates that if their resurgence continues at the same pace then their numbers will be "nearly recovered by 2030."
Another excellent example of habitat protection and expansion, also in Australia, has seen the classification of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot changed from 'extinct in the wild' to 'endangered'. After 30 years of conservation efforts, wild Bandicoots jumped from just 150 to an estimated 1,500. By creating predator-free habitats, the number of wild Bandicoots continues to grow
Despite the difficulties Covid-19 brought, 2021 saw an all-time high in renewable energy generation. According to a report by the International Energy Agency, the world added 290 gigawatts of renewable power production capacity in one year alone, including solar installations, wind farms and other technologies. To put that into perspective, that’s roughly double the entire electricity generating capacity of Canada is about 145 gigawatts.
By 2026, it's possible that renewable energy capacity could exceed the current global capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear combined. It's projected that more than 90% of new electricity generating capacity is to come from renewables in the next five years.
2021 saw the largest amount of money ever pledged for conservation from a single private fund. Nine different organisations pledged a total of $5 billion towards the 'Protect Our Planet Challenge' or '30x30', which seeks to protect 30% of the planet's land and oceans by 2030.
The Way Kambas National Park in Indonesia has built a new creative economy, which has been designed around the conservation of the critically endangered Sumatran Rhino. Due to its success such as new business opportunities and jobs in the area for locals, investors and other businesses are now seeing conservation as a profitable asset.
Leonardo DiCaprio, actor and environmentalist, pledged a huge $43 million to restore the Galapagos Islands in partnership with Re:Wild and local communities in the Galapagos. The pledge will fund multiple projects including efforts to restore Floreana Island, which is home to 54 threatened species and reintroduce 13 locally extinct species including the first mockingbird described by Charles Darwin - the Floreana mockingbird.
Rihanna, a musician originally from Barbados, pledged $15 million to 18 climate justice organisations working in seven Caribbean nations and the US, including the Climate Justice Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network and Black Lives Matter. Her grants will focus on groups run by female, LGBT and black or indigenous leaders due to their communities being at the greatest risk.
Projects such as the Eden Reforestation Projects also continue to make a huge difference to the world and the lives of local people in Kenya, Nepal, Central America, Madagascar, Brazil and many more countries. Through fighting deforestation and alleviating poverty, Eden is employing local communities to restore their natural ecosystems and paying them a fair living wage to do so. So far, they have planted more than 500 million trees around the world with 20 million being planted every month. Alongside that, they have improved the livelihoods of millions of people living in extreme poverty by employing people to work in their plant nurseries and on project sites. We're proud to say that the Greenspark community has planted over 165,000 trees through Eden.
One of the worst tropical cyclones hit the southern hemisphere in 2016 and devastated coral reefs across the Namena and Vatu-i-Ra conservation parks in Fiji. Tropical Cyclone Winston caused $1.4 billion in damage, claimed 44 lives and left more than 40,000 homes damaged or destroyed. It was the most destructive cyclone ever in the pacific.
Working alongside local communities, the Wildlife Conservation Society have established a reef management system, including 'no-take areas', which cover large sections of the highly biodiverse reef.
Six years later, in a recent dive expedition by the Wildlife Conservation Society, scientists found that the destroyed coral had recovered and recuperated far beyond anyone's expectations. Teeming with fish and life, the coral is now thriving, and even areas that have yet to recover are home to a significant amount of wildlife.
2021 saw the first time that more people than ever bought electric or hybrid vehicles over diesel.
JATO Dynamics, a global supplier of automotive business intelligence, found that the demand for gas and diesel cars saw a double-digit drop. The need for electric vehicles increased by a whopping 139%. More than 20% of new vehicle registrations in Europe were also for electric cars.
Data from the European Automobile Manufactures' Association found that one in 11 cars sold in Europe in 2021 were electric, a total of almost 880,000 vehicles.
While 1.1 million self-charging hybrid cars were registered in the EU in 2020, a massive 1.901.239 million hybrid cars were registered across the EU throughout 2021 (an increase of x%). Diesel registrations dropped from 2.77 million in 2020 to 1.901.191 million in 2021.
The move to more electric and hybrid vehicles shows a significant change for the future of the automotive industry.
We'd love to know what positive environmental and wildlife stories have inspired you or made you smile. We also want to know if Earth Day has encouraged you to make any changes to your lifestyle or business. By working together, we can continue to make huge strides and changes to the world so that next year, we can write about yet more inspirational stories and celebrate all the positive changes from 2022.
What are we doing to mark today? We're planting an extra 50 trees on behalf of all new members of the Greenspark community in April. If you want to find out the impact that your business can make, you can book a demo here.