This Earth Day is unlike any other. And since so many are spending April indoors, we decided to bring the wonder of our planet to you, wherever you may be. With the help of our community of Explorers and storytellers, we pulled together a collection of stories, photos, and, of course, cute animal clips to create a digital care package that celebrates the Earth. So scroll, enjoy, and share with a friend who could use a (virtual) breath of fresh air.
What’s in store:
- Finding hope in the Great Lakes, from Amy Sacka
- Quarantine inspiration from one family of owl monkeys, from Federico Pardo
- A fresh look at our watery planet, from Jenny Adler
- A pair of meerkats take in the view, from Jen Guyton
- Words of Earth Month encouragement from our Explorers
Keep checking back for more stories from our Explorers.
Explorer Amy Sacka on why the Great Lakes give her hope
In 2018, National Geographic Explorer Amy Sacka decided to document America’s Great Lakes in an effort to inspire their protection. We asked her to reflect on her work in this region, which continues to fill her with a sense of wonder for our world.
“Spending time on the icy expanses of the Great Lakes gives me hope and a sense of wonder. Sometimes when the ice is changing it makes strange noises that sound like whales or massive mysterious sea creatures communicating. One time, about a mile out, the small shanty I was in started violently shaking. “Ice earthquake,” the stranger I was with said to me, and then went back to fishing. The ice was expanding. I felt alive.” KEEP READING
Quarantine inspiration from a family of owl monkeys
This cozy crew of owl monkeys could give us all a lesson on staying comfortable at home. (How many total do you see?) Captured by Explorer Federico Pardo in Colombia’s Magdalena River Valley, earlier this year.
A fresh look at our watery planet
“Stillness feels easier beneath the surface. There are no distractions, phone calls, emails, street sounds, or sirens. Everything is quiet, calm. Underwater, we briefly escape the hold of gravity, floating weightless in the sky.
Recently, I’ve found myself saying I need space and time to think and ‘get my feet back on the ground,’ but maybe the secret is that having our feet on the ground is overrated. It was British science writer and undersea explorer Arthur C. Clark who noted that it is “inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.” And I love the Earth precisely because it is mostly covered in water. Oceans and freshwater springs, like this one in Florida, give us the ability to briefly break free from the stresses of life above water. In Florida, there are more than 1,000 of these freshwater springs, which serve as the perfect respite from the summer heat.
These springs are also direct connections to the underlying aquifer, which supplies more than 90% of Floridians with drinking water. I love that the earth provides us with this life-giving water and a place to explore. On Earth Day, and every day, I hope you too can find a perfect place on Earth to relax and perhaps gain a new perspective on our blue planet.” – Jenny Adler
A pair of meerkats take in the view
“It seems like these meerkats are savoring a field of flowers. Some might call that anthropomorphism; when meerkats look at a landscape, they’re often watching for predators. But these two seem relaxed. As scientists learn more about animal psychology, we realize that they’re far more complex than we’ve ever known. Maybe they really were enjoying the view.” -Jen Guyton
Making the impossible possible in the far reaches of Siberia
“As coronavirus transforms life all over the world, often in tragic and difficult ways, it has given us opportunities to reflect. We now have tangible proof that seemingly ‘impossible’ drastic societal changes are indeed possible in today’s world. The question now is how to tackle climate change with the same sweeping urgency. One way is to focus on hope and solutions.
In the far reaches of Siberia, a father and son are doing just that. Permafrost scientist Sergey Zimov and his son Nikita Zimov have created Pleistocene Park along the Kolyma River in the northeast of Siberia. The park operates as a nature reserve, research station, and large-scale scientific experiment. The Zimovs believe that they can slow down permafrost thaw by recreating the ecosystem of the Pleistocene era, which was dominated by grasslands and large, grazing animals that helped maintain and fertilize grass. Grasses absorb far less sunlight and heat than trees or tundra, causing the permafrost beneath the ground to stay colder for longer. This is crucial due to the fact that when permafrost thaws, it releases carbon gasses that can drastically speed up climate change. To test this theory, the Zimovs imported wild horses, yaks, bison and moose to Pleistocene Park. In 2018 they even joined forces with Harvard University geneticist George Church, who is working to clone a legendary species that went extinct some 10,000 years ago—the woolly mammoth. If the cloning is ever successful, Pleistocene Park will be the future home of these six-ton elephant-like creatures.” – Katie Orlinsky
Words of Earth Month encouragement
Stay tuned for more stories from our Explorer community as they continue to share how the planet inspires them and the work that they do.