Earth Day 2021: This Year It’s Really about the Whole Earth

With growing scientific confirmation of accelerating global climate change, Earth Day 2021, which falls this Thursday, is more than just another Earth Day. For the first time, an American president will host an international climate summit on Earth Day to “reset” domestic and international strategies to combat alarming climate trends. The Biden Administration invited 40 world leaders to the summit, and on April 17 announced an agreement with China to “seriously and urgently” tackle the problem.

Since taking office January 20, President Joe Biden has announced several major steps to strengthen United States. climate change strategy. He revived U.S. participation in the 2015 Paris international climate accord, which seeks to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. He is proposing $14 billion in new federal budget initiatives to attack the climate emergency.

Meanwhile, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer created the Council on Climate Solutions to advise her on ways the state can become carbon-neutral by the year 2050, and achieve a 28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The Office of Climate and Energy has scheduled two listening sessions to hear public comments about the MI Healthy Climate Plan, one on Earth Day and one on May 5. Click here to join the Earth Day virtual listening sessions.

Biden’s steps may be the most important a president has proposed since the first Earth Day 51 years ago, and Whitmer’s developing climate plan has major implications for Michigan’s future. But Earth Day-related action is nothing new to Michigan. The year of the first Earth Day, 1970, is a significant date in Michigan environmental history. Last year, FLOW illuminated the ways in which Michigan citizens and elected officials put our state on the map in 1970 with the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, the creation of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Natural Rivers Act, and more.

While global issues will headline Earth Day events, individuals can show their stewardship in a number of ways this spring:

Homegrown National Park, a cooperative conservation effort, hopes to spur Americans to restore biodiversity and support ecosystem function by planting native plants on 20 million acres of private land, approximately half of America’s privately-owned green lawns.

Improvements in organic waste disposal represent one of the most promising areas for growth in small scale attempts to mitigate climate change. A composting initiative in your backyard or community can help keep organic matter out of landfills while simultaneously reducing methane gases and our ecological footprint. For information on how to start a composting program for your household, check out these resources from NPR on “How to Compost at Home” and Oregon State University on “Compost in the Backyard. (FLOW intern Alex Theophilus is teaching seventh graders at Glenn Loomis middle school in Traverse City how to backyard compost.)

More Opportunities to Observe Earth Day in the Grand Traverse Region 

The Grand Traverse County Conservation District is organizing an Earth Day Workbee at the Miller Creek Nature Reserve. Tree planting and trail sprucing up run from 9:00 a.m.-noon Thursday.

Green Elk Rapids is sponsoring an Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 24,with stations on recycling, pollinator gardens, and green infrastructure and green practices, among other exhibits and activities.

The Leelanau Conservancy will hold a variety of Earth Week events, including a virtual kickoff for the expanded Palmer Woods Mountain Bike Trail near Maple City and a cleanup of Conservancy natural areas.

Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak in Empire is partnering with Sleeping Bear Dunes to host a beach cleanup at North Bar Lake on April 22.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will engage the public in Earth Day virtually through this year’s theme, “Restore Our Earth.” The National Park Service will host a virtual event at 1 pm EDT on April 22 titled, The Future of Conservation.

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