Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual event which takes place across the world to raise awareness of problems affecting the environment. This year it comes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns which have impacted the globe – but which have resulted in cleaner air in many countries as people stay home and pollution levels drop.
The first Earth Day on 22 April, 1970 saw 20 million Americans, 10% of the population at the time, demonstrate from coast to coast. Half a century later, millions around the world were expected to take part in the annual day of environmental action to address the huge challenges facing our planet. This year’s planned in-person gatherings were cancelled after the coronavirus outbreak but the movement pivoted to 72-hours of digital action instead, focusing on the theme of climate action. Meanwhile, the lockdowns introduced across the world have seen the skies clearing of pollution and wildlife returning to deserted streets.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Live Science asked scientists to share their favorite facts about our home planet. These researchers marveled at everything from backward flowing rivers in Antarctica to the Giant Crystal Cave of Naica in Mexico, which one geologist called the “Sistine Chapel of crystals.”
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