Earth Day 2021: Here’s how NASA is studying the planet

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CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — April 22 is Earth Day, a day to celebrate the globe and to practice ways to keep the earth clean and safe.

Earth Day began in 1970, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded the day to spotlight issues concerning toxic waste and toxic smoke. Twenty million Americans were a part of that inaugural day in cities all across the country.

A crowd of people gather near a large poster that shows a speach bubble from planet Earth that reads ‘Help!!’, on the occaision of the first Earth Day conservation awareness celebration, New York, New York, April 22, 1970. (Phoro by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

51 years later, Earth Day continues to promote environmental activism and sustainability. President Joe Biden marked Earth Day Thursday by pledging to cut U.S. fossil fuel emissions up to 52% by 2030.

“This Earth Day we’re working hard to lower our emissions & encouraging other countries to do the same. This is how we solve the climate crisis. Together. #RestoreOur Earth,” John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate tweeted.

Dr. Bridget Seegers, a NASA research scientist, told NewsNation the space company observes the earth from air, sea, and land and tracks global changes over time. NASA said the data is used in a myriad of ways from “improving the planting of crops to understanding the impacts of sea level rise.”

“NASA has been doing this for nearly 60 years. We’ve had satellites out circling the earth and looking back and trying to understand what’s going on,” Seegers said. “When you’re looking at the earth from space you really appreciate how it’s one system.”

Seegers said weather is the biggest change NASA noticed while studying the planet.

“When we get storms now they’re often very intense and they drop a lot more rain all at once and that leads to flooding. We also have droughts that are longer and hotter, so we’ve been noticing all of these changes through time,” Seegers said.

Seegers says Earth Day is an important day for understanding and bettering the planet. She believes the next step is to educate and inspire others to take action.

“We can only do this if we do it together. We all are a part of this one system,” Seegers said. “The more knowledge we have, the easier it is for us to take action.”

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