Earth Day 2006
This Saturday, April 22, is Earth Day, a reminder of our responsibility as global citizens to stay informed of environmental issues and act in ways that will protect natural resources for future generations.
In 1970, over 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day, reflecting international concern about the state of the environment. Since then, many countries have succeeded in removing toxic chemicals from waterways, recycling a larger percentage of materials post-consumption, and establishing clear standards to govern the health of both air and water. However, with a growing world population and a continued reliance on unsustainable practices, the need for stronger action on environmental issues is more urgent than ever.
This year's Earth Day focuses on climate change, one of the most important challenges facing humanity in this century. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states clearly that "most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities" IPCC, 2001. The effects of global warming are already observable in many physical and biological systems (see the WRI Issue Brief, Climate Science 2005: Major New Discoveries for more information). Unless individuals, industries, and governments drastically alter their actions, climate change may result in unprecedented consequences such as increased storm frequency, prolonged droughts, mass extinctions, rapid sea level rise, and disease outbreaks.