The global theme for Earth Day 2013 is “The Face of Climate Change,” Earth Day Network has announced. Earth Day Network, the group founded by the organizers of the first Earth Day to coordinate the annual day of action that builds and invigorates the environmental movement, said that this theme was chosen because of the need to highlight the mounting impact of climate change on individuals around the world.
“Many people think climate change is a remote problem, but the fact is that it’s already impacting real people, animals, and beloved places all over the world, and these Faces of Climate Change are multiplying every day,“ said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “Fortunately, other Faces of Climate Change are also multiplying every day: those stepping up to do something about it. For Earth Day 2013, we’ll bring our generation’s biggest environmental challenge down to size – the size of an individual faced with the consequences.”
Between now and Earth Day, Earth Day Network will collect and display images of people, animals, and places directly affected or threatened by climate change and tell the world their stories. The organization will mobilize its extensive global network of Earth Day event organizers and other partners to help collect the images. But they’re also asking ordinary people to become “climate reporters” and send their pictures and stories that show The Face of Climate Change.
On and around Earth Day – April 22 – an interactive digital display of all the images will be shown at thousands of events around the world, including next to federal government buildings in countries that produce the most carbon pollution. The display will also be made available online to anyone who wants to view or show it.
The campaign is focusing heavily on social media. Organizers are asking people to tweet using the hashtag #FaceOfClimate, and “climate reporters” can also post photos to Twitter and Instagram using that hashtag for inclusion in the digital display.
“The Face of Climate Change will not only personalize and make real the massive challenge that climate change presents, it will unite the myriad Earth Day events around the world into one call to action at a critical time,” said Franklin Russell, director of Earth Day at Earth Day Network.
2012 was marked by many climate change milestones. Arctic sea-ice cover reached a record low in September, a new high-water mark in a long-term decline. The United States experienced its hottest year ever; this, after the World Meteorological Organization announced that the first decade of this century was the hottest on record for the entire planet. Public perception of extreme weather events as “the new normal” grew as unusual superstorms rocked the Caribbean, the Philippines and the northeastern United States; droughts plagued northern Brazil, Russia, China, and two-thirds of United States; exceptional floods inundated Nigeria, Pakistan, and parts of China; and more. Meanwhile, international climate change talks stagnated. But glimmers of hope for a political solution began appearing in recent months, perhaps most notably in U.S. President Barack Obama’s high-profile promises to tackle climate change during his second term.
Each year, more than one billion people participate in Earth Day-related activities, making it the largest civic observance in the world. On and around April 22, communities across approximately 192 countries voice their concerns for the planet and take action to protect it.
“We’ll harness that power to show the world The Face of Climate Change,” said Russell. “And we’ll call on our leaders to act boldly together, as we have, on this critical issue.”