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Let's celebrate Earth Day

On April 22nd, we celebrate Earth day. With the recent flooding and the rapid changes in temperatures everywhere, the effects of global warming are increasingly felt around the world. And for this reason, I want to go back to the origins of this day and give five facts about the wonderful planet we live on.

Earth Day was invented by an American politician (who would have known…) in 1970. According to, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin was “concerned about the deteriorating environment” in the United States. In January 1969, Americans had indeed witness the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. At the time, the student anti-war protest movement was also very strong and the Senator was inspired by their movement to create something similar for the environment.

He decided to create a teach-in on college campuses and recruited Denis Hayes, a young activist, to organize that. They choose April 22nd to maximize the greatest student participation because it was between Spring Break and Final Exams. The event was promoted to a national scale and various organizations joined to broaden their impact. “Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans — at the time, 10% of the total population of the United States — to take the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development which had left a growing legacy of serious human health impacts” according to The event became truly global in 1990 mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. It also helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Now let’s honour our planet with some incredible facts!

  1. 70% of our planet’s surface is covered in water The 30% remaining is the solid ground we walk on every day. But although our planet is mostly covered by water, only 3% of it is fresh water which means that the rest (97%) is salted. And of the 3%, 2% is frozen in glaciers or ice sheets which means that the water found in lakes, rivers and underground represents only 1% of the fresh water. The salted water comes from the ocean which contains about 1.35 billion cubic kilometres of water. And yet, approximately 95% of the ocean is still unexplored.

  2. The ocean regulates the climate The ocean is necessary for life on Earth through its crucial role in weather and climate. As the sun warms the water, the ocean transfers heat to the atmosphere. In turn, the atmosphere distributes the heat around the globe. Because water absorbs and loses heat more slowly than land masses, the ocean helps balance global temperatures by absorbing heat in the summer and releasing it in the winter. So without the ocean to help regulate global temperatures, Earth’s climate would be very cold.

  3. We live on the thinnest layer of our planet Our planet is composed of four main layers: the inner core, outer core, mantle and crust. Because of the presence of Nickel and Iron in the inner core, Earth has a strong magnetic field. This magnetic field is also responsible for preventing heavy solar winds from blowing on the Earth and causing damage to various life forms. The thinnest of all the layers is the crust which is on an average 30 kilometres deep. In comparison, the thickest layer, the mantle, is 2900 kilometres thick.

  4. The Amazon rainforest does not produce most of our oxygen Although forests and tropical forests house around 80% of the whole biodiversity on land, and play a crucial role in the carbon cycle, they only produce 40% of the oxygen on Earth. More than 50% of the oxygen on Earth is actually generated by the phytoplankton in the oceans. Pollution of the oceans kills these microorganisms, reducing oxygen production.

  5. 75% of the atmosphere’s mass is found in its first layer The atmosphere is divided in five layers from the ground toward the sky which are the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. Although the troposphere is the smallest layer of our atmosphere (it’s between 8 to 14 kilometres), it contains most of our atmosphere’s mass. The air is densest in this lowest layer and is made up of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and the last 1% is made of argon, water vapor, and carbon dioxide.

  6. Bonus fact for Canada The force of gravity in the Hudson Bay region of Canada is less than that on the rest of the planet. There are various theories that scientists associate with this effect but no one is sure as to why this is the case.

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