Earth Day at UConn: What you need to know

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UConn students watch the sunset on Horsebarn Hill. Earth Day is a holiday dedicated to protecting the planet from climate change and pollution. Photo by Kevin Lindstrom/The Daily Campus.

Today is Earth Day, a holiday dedicated to preserving and protecting the planet from climate change. In the time since the creation of Earth Day in 1970, the earth’s temperature has risen from -0.34 degrees Celsius compared to a 1981 to 2010 average, to 0.59 degrees Celsius above that average in 2019. 

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is earth restoration. In other words, it is a reminder that the earth needs to be healthy for it to be protected. This encourages discussions about emerging green technologies and ecosystem restoration. There will also be a livestream on earthday.org focusing on the theme of this year’s Earth Day.  

Earth Day was created by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson to call attention to the climate crisis in America during that time. After seeing people protest the Vietnam War, he figured he could galvanize some of those protestors to combat climate change. The date April 22 was chosen so it could accommodate college students who were politically active at the time. The Environmental Protection Agency was created the December following the very first Earth Day. 

Today, over one billion people in 192 countries celebrate Earth Day, and members of the University of Connecticut community are no exception. While this year’s Spring Fling has been postponed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university will hold other Earth Day-themed events.  

At UConn’s Avery Point Campus, Connecticut-based music group Hitch & the Giddyup will have their music played. Alicia Cooper, a graduate puppet arts student, will perform her one-woman puppet show titled “ISH,” influenced by the Herman Melville novel “Moby Dick.”   

Following “ISH,” the UConn Dairy Bar will serve its Coastal Crunch ice cream. Following the puppet show, Connecticut College professor Andrea Wollensak will perform “Reading the Wrack Lines,” an audiovisual experience. Up to 200 attendees are allowed, as per state social distancing regulations. 

EPA charts of the ozone layer in Hartford, Connecticut. Photos courtesy of the EPA. 

We can each do our part to preserve the earth. For example, when possible, make sure to dispose of your single-use masks into a garbage bin instead of littering. This is one way we can prevent plastics from entering the ocean. 

About eight million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Some estimate that, by weight, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. 

But working together as a collective society has proven successful in the past. According to the EPA, in 1981, the ozone layer around Hartford was considered unhealthy. But in 2021, the ozone level in this region is now considered healthy. Though an act as simple as properly disposing of a mask may seem insignificant or ineffectual, change starts small. 

If you are interested in learning more about the environment, reach out to the UConn Office of Sustainability. Its mission includes, “working with senior administrators, students, faculty and staff to set and achieve strategic sustainability goals in the areas of climate action and resilience, energy and buildings,” according to their website. 

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