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This year marks 50 years since Earth Day first began!

It takes place every year on 22 April and it’s an opportunity for people right across the globe to come together not only to celebrate the world, but to also highlight how important it is we protect our precious planet.

In previous years, people have taken part in protests, marches and big clean-ups to to highlight the importance of being green and taking care of the planet.

However, the impact of the coronavirus means that large-scale events like this won’t be taking place. Earth Day 2020 will be going digital as people are encouraged to take part in various activities online.

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When did Earth Day start?

The first ever Earth Day was held in 1970 in America, 20 million people took to the streets to protest against big environmental issues that were being ignored including oil spills, polluted rivers and air pollution.

Those who took part in the protests wanted the protection of the planet to be taken more seriously.

The first Earth Day led to lots of action including the passing of new environmental laws – or rules – in America and later, lots of other countries. It’s thought to have inspired the modern environmental movement we have today.

What’s this year’s Earth Day theme?

The organisers behind Earth Day come up with a different theme for the event every year. This year’s theme is climate action and will focus on what can be done to tackle climate change.

Who will be celebrating Earth Day?

Nasa is celebrating Earth Day by hosting an Earth Day At Home party. They are working with Lego builders around the world to take part in a special #LetsBuildTogether challenge.

There will also be interactive talks online, including interviews with a group of Nasa scientists who have worked in Antarctica.

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Leif – the gardening sloth – will be arriving in Animal Crossing: New Horizons to celebrate Earth Day

Nintendo’s latest version of Animal Crossing is also holding an Earth Day celebration where Leif the Sloth will be arriving for the first time in the New Horizons game!

In previous Animal Crossing games, Leif has encouraged players to learn about the environment and plant trees and flowers.

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Greta Thunberg is a climate change activist

How has the coronavirus lockdown affected the planet this year?

People all around the world have been staying at home to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. The UK has been on lockdown since 23 March this year and the restrictions were recently extended by the government.

The measures seem to have had quite an impact on the planet so far.

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Air pollution has reduced dramatically around the world as people are travelling less

Levels of air pollution and greenhouse gases have fallen across the UK and in many other parts of the world. People are driving and flying less, and lots of big factories and businesses have temporarily shut, bringing whole industries to a halt. This has led to a decrease in demand for fossil fuels like gas, coal and oil.

However, organisations like the International Energy Agency, which looks at how countries can provide sources of sustainable energy, say that the current fall in carbon dioxide emissions could just be a short-term change that could go away when businesses start functioning as normal again.

It argues that governments and companies need to commit themselves to bringing about more long-term change.

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