The World Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Caribbean celebrates farmers, climate change and the 50th anniversary of Earth day.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the Caribbean Area joins agencies and groups across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the wider Caribbean, the United States and around the world in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is Climate Action. The enormous challenges and opportunities of action on climate change have made the issue the most pressing topic for Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.

The first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970, launched the modern environmental movement and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event. Earth Day was a unified response to an environment in crisis — oil spills, smog, rivers so polluted they caught fire. Twenty million Americans (10 percent of the U.S. population at the time) took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental degradation and to demand a new way forward for our planet. That first Earth Day spurred the passage of landmark environmental laws: The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Fifty years later, Caribbean area farmers and ranchers celebrate Earth Day every day. Farmers in the United Virgin Islands are helping to make the islands healthier and more resilient in the face of a changing climate. Agriculture provides a variety of opportunities to reduce emissions and remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Natural Resources Conservation Service is committed to helping farmers become even better conservation stewards by providing technical and financial assistance to apply conservation practices to help the soil, water, air, plants and animals on their lands.

Natural Resources Conservation Service also celebrates Earth Day every day by focusing on adapting conservation practices and innovative technologies to make it easier for farmers and ranchers to adopt conservation systems that help improve their bottom line while reducing greenhouse gas emissions with minimal economic impact.

From no-till and cover crops to efficient water use, nutrient management and rotational grazing systems, Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation practices help producers become more climate resilient while keeping working lands healthful and boosting rural economies.

Farmers are using scientifically proven soil health practices to minimize runoff, save on inputs and use soil to store carbon to balance atmospheric carbon levels by minimizing soil disturbance. Landowners are using forest management practices to improve forest ecosystems with pruning and slash treatments, reducing wildfire risk while growing carbon storage in new vegetation.

As Caribbean farmers embrace NRCS conservation practices and innovative technologies to adapt to climate change, their operations are becoming more efficient and resilient. Practices that in the end improve productivity while reducing their bottom lines.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers a variety of disaster assistance and conservation programs to help agricultural producers weather climate ups and downs and recover from natural disasters as well as invest in improvements to their operations. For more information about NRCS programs and services, contact your local USDA service center or visit www.pr.nrcs.usda.gov.

For those facing the challenge of home-schooling their children during these uncertain times, use this opportunity to celebrate Earth Day with science and environmental education activities. Visit the Teachers & Students webpage to find links to agriculture and environmental education resources like hands-on activities, lesson plans, interactive websites and more.