Top Story: April 21, 2014

Celebrate Earth Day!

earth day, gaylord nelson, climate action, soundscape recorder, Lyrid, EPA

By Jami Smith and Molly Michelson

April 22nd is Earth Day. Founded in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson as a response to a large oil spill in Santa Barbara, the annual event has grown from 20 million Americans that first year to 200 million people around the world in 1990, and it continues to grow today. According to earthday.org, the first Earth Day spurred our government to create the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts as well as to form the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In 2014, the U.S. government is celebrating by promoting President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. The plan is a pledge to cut carbon emissions, prepare for the effects of climate change, and participate on a global scale to address climate change. The plan is already forging ahead. Last week, the Department of Energy announced that it is making $4 billion available for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. National Geographic has the details.

And here’s how you can celebrate…

NASA wants your selfies! NASA’s Global Selfie event asks people from all over planet Earth to take a photo of themselves in their local environment and post it on the social media platform of their choice, marking it #GlobalSelfie. NASA plans to use your photos to create a crowd-sourced mosaic image of Earth.

For more Earth Day smartphone, science-y fun, download the Soundscape Recorder app and record the everyday sounds of your world on April 22nd. Bryan Pijanowski, a soundscape ecologist at Purdue University, is hoping to get one million recordings on Earth Day, using the power of citizen science! According to Wired, “as [the sound recordings] accumulate, year after year, scientists could use them to measure patterns and changes in our sonic environments.” And after you’ve listened to your environment, take a few minutes and listen to more: Global Soundscapes has more than 500,000 recordings of ecosystems from around the world for you to hear.

And when you’re done listening, look up! The heavens will be celebrating Earth Day, too, with the Lyrid meteor shower. The Lyrids, one of the most dependable meteor showers of the year, will be at its peak in the early morning hours of April 22nd. On moonless nights you can see 10 to 20 meteors per hour at the Lyrids’ peak. A bright moon this year will obscure many of the dimmer meteors, but it’s still worth searching the skies to see what you can find.

There’s more you can do on Earth Day and every other day to help the planet, including riding a bike instead of driving, planting a tree, and volunteering at a local wildlife refuge. Check out some practical tips from the Fish and Wildlife Service and from the EPA.

After you’ve done your part for the planet, come to the California Academy of Sciences and get your reward! The world’s greenest museum offers discount tickets to you Earth lovers: bring a reusable water bottle to the Academy beginning Tuesday, April 22nd, to Sunday, May 4th, and get $3.00 off admission!

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