The theme for this year’s Earth Day on April 22 is Restore Our Earth. It’s appropriate in 2021, when we remember the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many people around the world were in lockdown at home, an interesting thing happened to our planet.
It got a chance to breathe.
With so many people not flying or driving, we got a unique view of how fast the Earth changes when we drastically reduce emissions—and how it really is possible to restore the Earth if we try.
Using advanced computer models, NASA projected what 2020 would have looked like without a pandemic and then compared it to what actually happened. They found that global nitrogen dioxide concentration was reduced by nearly 20%.
Amazingly, 50 of the 61 cities they analyzed saw reductions of between 20-50%. And in Milan, where there were severe lockdown measures, the reduction was 60%.
In Canada, Toronto and Montreal saw reductions of over 30%, while Calgary and Edmonton saw almost a 40% drop.
And what about Vancouver? Take a look at this interactive view comparing March 2019 with March 2020 to see the difference. At the same time, overall electricity usage in B.C. dropped by nearly 10%.
While the pandemic gave us a powerful glimpse of how things could be if we all looked for ways to reduce our consumption, it soon started to go back up as businesses reopened.
It’s up to all of us to remember that brief chance Earth got to breathe and make sure we learn from it. Furthermore, it’s good to be aware of other factors that affect energy consumption, like population size, climate, and use of non-renewable energy resources.
There has never been a better reminder to adopt power smart practices and encourage your students to do the same, so we can protect our clean energy future.
We’ve curated some of the teaching activities we’ve created with several educational partners to help students understand the importance of sustainability and how they can try to make every day Earth Day.
Motivated by a short video of Greta Thunberg, students design a poster to inspire climate change, using the accompanying worksheet to help them think about what they want their target audience to do and how they want to talk to them.
How many different energy resources do we use? Students break into groups and spend some time researching what they are and the impact they have on the environment. A list of guiding questions helps each group gather their ideas and present them back to the class.
Students watch a short video to learn all about the Okanagan from the Westbank First Nation. After discussing how the video makes them feel about nature, they’ll pick a place in nature that has special meaning for them. Everyone thinks about how climate change might affect it—and how they might prevent this.
The accompanying worksheet is packed with moments of sustainability that all students will have experienced. They’ll have time to choose, discuss and draw the ones that resonate most with them.
These are just 7 of our many teaching resources that tie in perfectly with Earth Day. Visit our site for more inspiration, along with dozens more Sustainability and Conservation activities for students of all ages.
Let’s hope that the Earth can breathe again soon—but without the help of a pandemic.