Earth Week 2016: Happy Earth Day!

Day five in the Earth Week 2016 series. Read parts one, two, three and four.

Today is Earth Day!

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The signing of the Paris Agreement in December. Credit: United Nations Photo/flickr

This year, Earth Day has a special meaning. World leaders are meeting in New York City to sign the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement, which was ratified in Paris in December. 165 countries are planning to sign!

The agreement aims to lower carbon emissions in countries across the globe in order to limit our global warming to 2°C instead of 4°C, which is our current track of warming.

Limiting warming to 2°C may not seem like a lot, but it would decrease the amount of climate change impacts currently plaguing the world, including sea level rise, extreme weather and extreme heat.

There are still some climate change effects that won’t be completely eradicated, including ocean acidification. A lot of global heat is trapped in the oceans, and decreasing our emissions won’t decrease the current heat in the oceans. But, of course, it would help the overall rate of warming.

Because of the signing, world leaders are helping combat climate change by embracing renewable energy and carbon trading.

The main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen capability to deal with the impacts of climate change.

To reach these ambitious and important goals, appropriate financial flows will be put in place, thus making stronger action by developing countries and the most vulnerable possible, in line with their own national objectives.

World leaders are helping out, but we can too! Drive less (or ride public transit or buy an electric car!). Eat less meat. If your energy company allows you the option to choose wind or solar on your energy bill, pay the extra few dollars. A little from everyone goes a long way.

Thanks for tuning in this Earth Week! View the whole Earth Week Series here.

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Earth Week 2016: #AppsForEarth connects Apple and the Earth like never before

Day two in the Earth Week 2016 series. Read day one here.

Money talks.. or so they say.

And it certainly helps with conservation efforts across the globe, as a little money can go a long way.

And that’s why Apple has paired up with 27 apps to send 100% of proceeds from app purchases and in-app purchases to the World Wildlife Fund from April 14 through 24 in a campaign called “Apps for Earth.”

applsforearth

Causes include forest conservation, wildlife conservation, sustainable food development, ocean preservation, fresh water protection, and combatting climate change.

The apps aren’t just limited to conservation efforts, as they include games from Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Disney, Jurassic World, and Marvel, as well as Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Cut the Rope and line.

Lisa Jackson, former EPA director and now Apple’s VP for environment & social initiatives, told the Washington Post:

“This is yet another example of our work to help the planet, and it addresses something we hear a lot of from our customers. They love the work Apple is doing as a company, but they want to be engaged in this mission of leaving the planet better than we found it.”

So if you were waiting to buy those extra Angry Birds lives, do it now! And help save the planet one app at a time.

View the whole Earth Week Series here.

Earth Week 2016: 5 social campaigns to follow this Earth Week

Day one in the Earth Week 2016 series. Stay tuned for more!

The Earth needs a whole week, not just a day! So welcome to my Earth Week series.

If you’re new to the internet, welcome! You may have heard of the hashtag, or the greatest invention ever. With it, you can follow the conversation about pretty much everything. But I’m here to tell you about social campaigns worth following this Earth Day.

#ClimateSign

The #ClimateSign movement has been ongoing since the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement, and encourages people all over the world to throw up the “climate sign,” the letter “c,” and say why you care about climate!

While I worked Weather + Climate Day at the National Aquarium a couple weeks ago, I ran into some Climate Sign people working the same event! There’s me, above, saying I care about climate because I care about people. Follow them on Twitter to join the movement.

#24Seven

NASA’s Earth Day campaign invites people across the Blue Marble to share what they’re doing to protect it. This event will also give the public a look behind the scenes at the space agency:

“The Earth Day #24Seven campaign will give the world a glimpse at the various efforts NASA undertakes to protect and understand our home planet. NASA will post time-stamped snapshot “moments” throughout the day on numerous Earth-related social media accounts to collectively paint a picture of NASA Earth science.”

Find more info on the #24Seven Project here.

#AppsForEarth

Apple is pairing up with the World Wildlife Fund this Earth Week to raise money for climate change mitigation, forest conservation and fresh water protection (among other causes!). 100% of the purchases of certain apps (including some from Disney, Marvel and Angry Birds) as well as in-app purchases will go to these causes. Apps for Earth! Stay tuned, blog post coming tomorrow on this very subject!

#48DaysofBlue

The National Aquarium is launching a national campaign around water — all kinds of it! The campaign, dubbed #48DaysofBlue, launches on Earth Day and continues on until World Oceans Day 48 days later. The push covers everything from the issues oceans face in the long term (like pollution and ocean acidification) to water conservation in your home. Follow along on Twitter!

#Trees4Earth

The Earth Day Network is urging people to plant trees to combat climate change with their #Trees4Earth hashtag.

Deforestation is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for up to 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation plays such an oversized role in climate change, in fact, that part of the 2015 Paris Agreement singled out both the end of deforestation and the importance of reforestation to hitting national climate goals.

For more on how trees can help, see Climate Central’s coverage of trees from the Paris climate pact.

#EarthDay (and #EarthWeek)

Last but certainly not least, an oldie but a goodie, the #EarthDay hashtag will have everything and MORE about the greatest holiday on the planet (in my opinion, of course). Follow #EarthDay and #EarthWeek (because Earth deserves more than one day) on Twitter for Earth news for the whole week.

View the whole Earth Week Series here.

Earth Week 2015: how are the oceans doing, anyway?

Welcome to my annual Earth Week series! I believe that protecting the Earth deserves more than one day, so I’ve given it a week. Check back every day from April 20-24 to learn about a new environmental issue (or solution!) each day.

Sometimes we forget about the oceans, despite the fact that they take up 70% of the Earth’s surface. Or, more specifically, we forget to think about what ends up there.

A study in the journal Science found that we deposit between 5.3 and 14 million tons of plastic in the oceans every year. I mean sure, that’s a huge range. But to make it more fathomable, OnEarth made analogies for plastic totaling 9 million tons. 9 million tons of plastic is 136 billion plastic jugs, which, if stacked, would “reach more than halfway to Mars.” 9 million tons of plastic is “also the equivalent of piling five grocery bags full of plastic on every foot of coastline in the world.”

So, in other words, that’s a lot of plastic. And however you quantify it, a lot of it is going into the oceans.

garbagepatch

If you don’t know, there is a huge pile of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The patch is actually a group of trash piles that collect between the west coast of the US and the East Coast of Asia. The trash “vortex” collects in a convergence zone in the ocean – where warm water from the the southern hemisphere meets with cold water from the Arctic. You can see the different trash piles below:

The plastic converges here because a lot of it isn’t biodegradable, considering it’s plastic. That, paired with the fact that we produce 620% more plastic than we did as a society in 1975, is causing problems for marine life as well as the health of the ocean. Mashable reports that when plastic is jostled in the ocean, it is sometimes broken up into tiny shreds, small enough to be ingested my animals and avoid nets of those trying to clean up the sea.

Garbage washed up in Hawaii

So what can you do to help? Here are some ideas:

  • Use less plastic: we only recycle 14% of plastic we use in the US, and that’s pretty bad. If you live in an area where recycling is easily accessible, please just recycle. Just put that plastic bottle in your recycling bin!
  • Stop using products with plastic micro-beads in them: okay, so ICYMI, your facial cleanser probably has tiny pieces of plastic in it. Do you have exfoliating beads? Bingo. Simple solution – don’t use these! Find other products . If you’re inclined to take a stand, find out more here.
  • Reuse the plastic you do use: use extra plastic jars to house snacks instead of using plastic snack/sandwich bags. You can also reuse the tupperware from lunch meat to take your sandwiches to work. There are endless possibilities!
  • Don’t use plastic bottles: if you read my blog, you know plastic bottles are horrible, not just for the environment because of plastic pollution, but because of water extraction too. The bottles are made of fossil fuels, too, which doesn’t help the Earth much.

It’s easy to make change – just pick what works for you and stick to it! A little goes a long way. Thanks for joining me for this Earth Week series!

This post concludes my Earth Week posts for 2015. Click here for more!