The very first earth Day was celebrated April 22, 1970. And since then so many things have changed for our planet. Back in the 1970’s the biggest issues we as a civilization were facing was pollution, both water and air. Today we have done quite nicely on cleaning most of that stuff up, but now we are faced with several new issues, including global warming. But it’s not just that we have also learned a lot more about the earth since the first Earth Day. All of this new knowledge has allowed us to better understand our planet, which has caused us to do some amazing and some not so amazing things to our planet.
Here is a quick look at some of the most interesting things we have discovered about the Earth since the first earth Day.
New Mountains Discovered
This is probably one of the most interesting facts that scientists have discovered because of how mind boggling it is. When most of us think mountains we think of those snow covered peaks that dot the planet in certain regions. The last thing we think about is mountains being discovered in the depths of the ocean. But, in fact, that is exactly what is happening as scientists have discovered thousands of new mountains along the ocean’s floor. In August 2014 scientists were mapping out a large section of the ocean floor in the Pacific Ocean that had never really been explored before. To their surprise they stumbled upon a 3,300 feet high seamount. A few months later 15,000 new seamounts had been discovered by a different group of researchers.
Discovery of New Species
Now discovering underwater mountain ranges might sound a bit exciting, but even more exciting is the discovery of any new kind of species. As it stands right now there are about 1.5 million species who call Earth home, but what is mind boggling is the fact that there are still another 4 million species that we have yet to discover. Every year that passes scientists discover new species. Some of these new species are part of a larger group, such as the Araguaian river dolphin. Other times the species are a simply bizarre, such as the new species of snail fish that lives 26,715 feet below sea level, the two new species of venomous jellyfish, or even a new species of wild bananas from India.
Humans Have Wiped Out 50% of Wildlife
Now this one is rather interesting because we have brought back several species that were on the edge of becoming extinct. Not to mention that while we are constantly discovering new species we are also busy wiping out, even if not entirely others. The World Wildlife Fund conducted a study that found that between 1970 and 2010 the wildlife population declined by about 52%. Now don’t get too worked up, as this doesn’t mean species have been wiped out by us, it just means the overall number of animals has dropped.
Plastic garbage Patches Are In Every Ocean
Now this one is surely nothing to write home about, but it is a sad fact that we have to face since plastic now plays such a big role in our modern lives. While some of the plastic ends up being recycled or even tossed in the landfills, not all of it does. In 2-014 we learned that quite a bit of it actually ends up in our oceans. Most of us have heard about the swirling mass called the Great pacific Garbage Patch that is found in the Pacific Ocean, but what researchers have discovered is that there are 5 more similar patches in other oceans across the planet. A recent study suggests that up to 13 million metric tons of plastic make its way into the oceans, but only about 1% of that ends up in the swirling garbage patches. Leaving us to ponder where the rest of it actually goes.
Ozone Layer is Healing
This is probably one of the best discoveries that we have made in the past year. In the 1970s scientists learned that we were slowly destroying the ozone layer, which is vital to protecting Earth and its occupants from the harmful rays of the sun. The largest culprit for the damage was Chlorofluorocarbons, which were used in refrigerators and air conditioners among other things. By 2013 the hole in the ozone layer was massive, which most felt was going to lead to certain dome. However, the exact opposite happened because scientists found out what was causing the problem in enough time to reverse the negative effects. In 2014, a UN assessment found that the ozone layer had started to heal itself and by 2050 or so it should be back to its 1980 levels.
Antarctica Melting Too Fast
One thing that scientists have known for quite some time is that humans have been warming the planet through several of their actions that add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Even though they have known this the rate at which things have been happening have caught many scientists off guard. In 2014, several studies showed that the ice sheet that sits on top of Antarctica has been melting faster than they first thought. Another study done in March 2015 showed that the ice shelves are also tinning quite rapidly thanks to the warm water flowing underneath them. What is even scarier is that even if we were to take action now to stop global warming some of the ice melting is going to continue, which will cause massive amounts of ice to fall into the oceans causing sea levels to rise by several feet.
Today there are several debates going around about when we humans first began altering the planet so drastically. Some believe it began in the 1600s, while others believe it began 7,000 years ago when humans began clearing forests out to grow crops of their own. No matter where you stand, you need to remember that Earth Day is a modern thing adopted to help try and save our planet.