Dear EarthTalk: What is the theme of this year’s Earth Day festivities?
— J. Worden, Austin, TX
Organizers from Earth Day Network (EDN), the non-profit group dedicated to diversifying and mobilizing the environmental movement through planning and coordinating Earth Day activities and events around the world, have chosen “The Face of Climate Change” as the theme for 2013’s celebration on April 22. According to the group, which works with 22,000 partners in 92 countries, more than a billion people will take part in Earth Day events this year.
Leading up to April 22, EDN is collecting images of people, animals and places directly affected or threatened by climate change, as well as images of people stepping up to do something about it. Anyone can upload a relevant picture for inclusion via EDN’s website. Then on and around Earth Day itself, an interactive digital display of all the images will be shown at thousands of events around the world—including next to federal government buildings in countries that produce the most carbon pollution. The resulting “global mosaic” display will also be available online—including an embedded live twitter feed.
The idea behind the theme is to personalize the challenge climate change presents by spreading the stories of those individuals, animals and places affected through imagery. Some of the images already part of the project include a man in the Maldives worried about relocating his family as sea levels rise, a polar bear in the melting arctic, a farmer in Kansas struggling to make ends meet as prolonged drought decimates crops, a tiger in India’s dwindling mangrove forests, a child in New Jersey who lost her home to Hurricane Sandy, an orangutan in Indonesian forests ravaged by bush fires and drought, and a woman in Bangladesh who can’t get fresh water due to more frequent flooding and cyclones.
EDN is also including many images of people doing their part to address climate change: green entrepreneurs, community activists, clean tech engineers, carbon-conscious policymakers and public officials, and Average Joes and Josephines committed to living sustainably.
“Together, we’ll highlight the solutions and showcase the collective power of individuals taking action across the world,” reports EDN. “In doing so, we hope to inspire our leaders to act and inspire ourselves to redouble our efforts in the fight against climate change.”
For those looking to organize an Earth Day event locally this year, Earth Day Network provides a wide range of useful resources—including basic guides for organizing events at schools and universities, in libraries and within faith communities, as well as posters, reading lists and so on. Teachers can also download Earth Day lesson plans and other curricula aids for their K-12 classrooms.
Beyond Earth Day itself, EDN runs the Billion Acts of Green campaign throughout the year with the goal of getting billions of people to take action on behalf of the environment, whether through encouraging policymakers to consider sustainability initiatives, recycling e-waste, planting trees, going solar, and much more. So far the group has tallied over a billion individual acts of green and is working on its second billion now. Anyone can register their own acts of green via the Earth Day Network website.