Today marks the 50th Earth Day, a time to celebrate our amazing planet and encourage environmental protection.
Earth Day celebrations today may be more meaningful than ever, given the effects that #stayathome are having on all of us, globally and locally.
In all kinds of ways, you can explore the ecological changes Earth is experiencing.
Pollution has plummeted, giving the planet a breath of fresh air
Highway closures, factory shut downs and countless cancelled commutes have led to unprecedented drops in emissions.
March measurements reported pollution in Paris to be down by over 45%, LA by over 25% and Sydney nearly 30%.
Where Delhi’s Air Quality Index has been known to soar to life-threatening levels, it’s sunk to a fraction of that. Free from boat traffic, Venice’s canal has become incredibly clear. This image (credit: Tomskyhaha CC Wikicommons) is shows the change in pollution after 10 days of lockdown in Fanhe town in China.
We're noticing new horizons
In Jalandhar in Punjab, the residents are able to see the Dhauladhar mountains once shrouded by smog. The residents of Milan are waking up to views of the Italian Alps. In Los Angeles, the Hollywood sign and Catalina Island can be seen from a far greater distance.
City-dwellers can hear clear birdsong
Stay at home means less or no commuting and so city soundscapes have changed, with measurements showing a dramatic drop in decibels. Classic Journeys guides around the world are telling us how they can suddenly hear birdsong in locations they never have previously, including Susana in Lisbon: "In Portugal, we’ve seen a big change in just a few weeks. It’s like we have gone back in time to the old days when sound pollution wasn’t around and very few people walked the streets. We can hear the birds so clearly now as they sing to welcome in the spring!"
…while whale song is filling the oceans
Cruises have been cancelled and shipping traffic slashed.
Bioacoustic measurements are detecting far quieter waters, and the pollution of the oceans is lessening. Which is wonderful news for whales.
Whale song is clearer than ever with manmade noise no longer interrupting their communications.
Sightings have increased thanks to a lack of boat traffic deterring them from coastal areas. Researchers have measured a notable drop in their stress hormones.
More of us are stargazing
Stadiums are not lit up. There are fewer car headlights on the highways and fewer airplane trails striping the sky.
As a result of clearer air and less light pollution, Parisians are seeing starry skies never experienced in decades. There are stunning images of the annual Lyrid meteor shower, and Britons have been watching the Starlink satellites, launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, as they cross the skies.
We have a whole new appreciation for natural spaces
As governments limit going outdoors, we’re appreciating the nature on our doorstep more than ever, exploring our local areas on daily walks, craving closed-down beaches and hiking trails and dreaming up a wish list of things to do and see when life returns to normal.
Animals are roaming free
Humans may be staying home, but wildlife is freely exploring.
In Wales, mountain goats have been wandering the streets. In Barcelona, it’s been wild boar. Deer have been spotted grazing in London housing estates and racoons roaming Central Park. Coyotes have been seen on the Golden Gate Bridge.
South Africa’s Kruger National Park tweeted this photo of lions, lazing on roads usually dominated by safari jeeps.
Even animals in captivity are getting a taste of freedom. Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium released its penguins to waddle around and meet fellow creatures.
Wildflowers are blooming
Where councils have left grassy areas unmown, bursts of brightly-colored flowers are emerging. With so much new pollen, honeybees are having a field day.
Bike sales are booming
With limited time to enjoy the great outdoors, people are taking to two wheels.
Work-from-home parents are using their lunch breaks to teach their toddlers to cycle.
People are discovering parts of their neighborhood they never knew existed.
We're taking care of one another
People are uniting, and the phrase ‘we’re all in this together’ is used more than ever.
Neighbors are looking out for each other, helping with shopping and dog walking.
Communities are supporting local businesses to help them stay open.
Italians have been leaning from balconies to join each other in song.
Households celebrate essential workers on the front line: flashing lights from apartments in built-up cities, putting up painted painting 'thank you' signs on fences and windows and stepping outdoors weekly applause.