Today, April 22, 2021 is Earth Day! We hear that term, but what exactly does it mean and why do we celebrate it? It is an international event celebrated around the world to pledge support for environmental protection. The year 2021 marks the 51st anniversary of the annual celebrations and is also the 6th anniversary of the encyclical by Pope Francis, Laudato Si’. This year’s theme for Earth Day is “Restore Our Earth”. This day was first observed in 1970 when 20 million people organized and marched to bring recognition to a devastating oil spill that took place off the coast of Santa Barbara, California in 1969.
From this march, a transformative worldwide awareness eventually united 200 countries to set a common target for reducing global greenhouse emissions. The historical Paris Agreement emerged from this and was signed on Earth Day in 2016.
Earth Day unifies our communities and encourages people to participate in outdoor activities individually or in groups. Activities such as planting trees, picking up roadside trash, conducting various programs for motivating sustainable living like making use of recycled materials, are performed. Some people also sign petitions to governments, calling for effective and immediate action to stop global warming and to reverse environmental damage. It is both the physical work and the energetic legislative efforts that embody the justice work for our Catholic Social Teaching of Care for God’s Creation.
To find out more about Earth Day and how you can do your part, go to the website www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/
“If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part. Christians in their turn realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith.” (Pope Francis)