Billions of US dollars are being spent on exploration within our solar system. The race is on to find out if life can be sustained on other planets. Yet, on our own planetary home, we see and feel the effects of our collective actions on the environment that sustains us: melting of glaciers and deforestation at alarming rates, ocean acidification, unsustainable commercial consumption of wildlife; and the list goes on. While scientific exploration may tell us 20, 30, or 50 years from now that other planets are habitable, we need to think and act as if there is no option B. There is ONLY ONE EARTH!
Here are some National Geographic facts that will help you to appreciate our shared home:
* With a radius of 3,959 miles, Earth is the fifth largest planet in our solar system, and it’s the only one known for sure to have liquid water on its surface. Earth is also unique in terms of monikers.
* Every other solar system planet was named for a Greek or Roman deity, but, for at least a thousand years, some cultures have described our world using the Germanic word “earth,” which means simply “the ground.”
* Earth orbits the sun once every 365.25 days. Since our calendar years have only 365 days, we add an extra leap day every four years to account for the difference.
* Like Venus and Mars, Earth has mountains, valleys, and volcanoes. But unlike its rocky siblings, almost 70 percent of Earth’s surface is covered in oceans of liquid water that average 2.5 miles deep.
* Earth’s crust and upper mantle are divided into massive plates that grind against each other in slow motion. As these plates collide, tear apart, or slide past each other, they give rise to our very active geology. Earthquakes rumble as these plates snag and slip past each other. Many volcanoes form as seafloor crust smashes into, and slides beneath, continental crust. When plates of continental crust collide, mountain ranges such as the Himalaya are pushed toward the skies.
* Earth’s atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapour, and argon.
* The atmosphere not only nourishes life on Earth, but also protects it. It’s so thick that many meteorites burn up from friction before impact, and its gases — such as ozone — block DNA-damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the surface.
Today, as we celebrate World Environment Day under the theme “Only One Earth”, we are reminded that the stakes have never been higher. The slogan calls on us humans to “live sustainably in harmony with nature”, a mantra that should be a part of our daily existence. While our individual consumption choices do make a difference, it is collective action that would create the transformative environmental change we need, so we can advance to a more sustainable and just Earth, where everyone can flourish.
Parents, please visit https://www.prodigygame.com/main-en/blog/earth-day-activities-for-kids/ to do fun activities with your children, in order to encourage them to appreciate and care for the Earth.
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