Earth Day 2016: five inspiring facts and how to do your bit



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On Friday, leaders from 160 countries will officially sign the Paris Climate Agreement on Earth Day 2016.

The deal was thrashed out in Paris last December in order to stem global warming.

The signing makes this year’s Earth Day one of the most important in years, and the organisers will be attempting to build on the momentum created by last year’s Paris Climate Summit.

To mark the day, Google has designed a Doodle, one of many that is creates year after year.

“Earth Day is the largest, most recognisable face of the environmental movement,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of the Earth Day Network.

During the Paris talks world leaders agreed to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, with developed countries providing $100 billion (£70 bn) of public and private finance to help developing countries by 2020.

The organisers behind Earth Day, which occurs annually on April 22, are hoping to use the 2016 celebration to plant 7.8 billion trees, divest from fossil fuels and make cities 100 per cent renewable.

“Let’s take the momentum from the Paris Climate Summit and build on it,” said the Earth Day organisers. “Let’s start now. And let’s not stop.”

Sophie Diao, who designed this year’s Doodle, described the Earth Day illustration as an “intimidating topic”.

“In the end I chose to highlight Earth’s five major biomes,” or ecological areas, said Diao. “In each illustration, you’ll find one animal who’s been singled out for 15 minutes of fame. Each time you visit Google, you’ll randomly receive one of the five doodles.” You can refresh Google to see the other illustrations.

The five animals profiled in the latest Doodle are a polar bear, fox, elephant, tortoise and octopus.

When did Earth day start?

Earth Day began in 1970 as a day to celebrate the planet and encourage people to be more environmentally friendly. The first celebration was held in the US after a devastating oil spill, and is widely regarded as the beginning of the modern environmental movement.

Activities associated with the day often include planting trees, raising awareness about recycling, volunteering for green projects, and reducing the amount of energy people consume.

Earth Day is supported by a host of celebrities, including Leonardo Di Caprio, Emma Watson, Miley Cyrus and Matt Damon.
This isn’t the first time that Google has celebrated Earth Day. Last year’s Doodle featured the “Which animal are you?” quiz. Through questions such as “What are you up to on a typical Friday night?” and “What do you look for in a partner?” it would guess your soul-animal.

One answer, for example, said “You’re a komodo dragon! You have an appetite for life – as well as the ability to swallow an entire goat.”

Five things you didn’t know about Earth Day

One billion people across the world will get involved with Earth Day this year
The celebration has its own flag that features a picture of the Earth taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft on its way to the Moon
20 million people participated in the first ever Earth Day in 1970
No one knows where the name or date for the day came from as the organisers can’t remember
In 2008 Disney launched Disneynature, a channel dedicated to environmental documentaries, in celebration of Earth Day.

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