We only have one planet to live in and it’s not doing well.

The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day.

The origin of Earth Day dates back to 1970 when Gaylord Nelson, then a United States Senator from Wisconsin, witnessed the damage to the environment caused by the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.

Fuelled by the 1960s student anti-war movement, Nelson realised that something concrete can be done for the planet if he could merge that energy with rising public awareness about the environment.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets nationwide to push for change and create a healthy, sustainable environment.

Today, over 190 countries observe Earth Day, which is celebrated by more than a billion people worldwide every year. (earthday.org)

On this day, various pledges, programmes and actions take place to highlight issues related to climate change, global warming, the environment.

The number of people exposed to flooding each year may well triple from 21 million to 54 million by 2030 due to climate change. Seen here are displaced Iraqis from Mosul crossing the Tigris by boat due to flooding caused by days of rainfall which has closed the city’s bridges at the village of Thibaniya, south of Mosul, Iraq earlier this month. Photo: Reuters

This year’s Earth Day theme is Environmental and Climate Literacy, which is aimed at educating people on the concepts of climate change and its massive threat to our planet. It also focuses on empowering people with the knowledge to inspire action to protect our environment.

Here are five things you may not know about our earth, and 10 things you can do to protect it.

Quick facts about the state of Earth

1. There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than at any point in the last 800,000 years.

2. Since 1870, global sea levels have risen by about eight inches (20.3cm).

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Sea ice seen on March 30 above Greenland. According to NASA scientists and the National Snow and Ice Data Center, sea ice in the Arctic appears to have reached its lowest maximum wintertime extent ever recorded on March 7. Scientists have said the Arctic has been one of the regions hardest hit by climate change. Photo: AFP

3. The Arctic ice is melting rapidly and by 2040 or earlier, the region is expected to have a completely ice-free summer.

4. Between 1990 and 2014, there was a 36% increase in warming due to greenhouse gases, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

5. According to a World Resources Institute study, the number of people exposed to flooding each year may well triple from 21 million to 54 million by 2030.

10 simple steps to help environmental conservation

1. Walk or cycle instead of driving to the nearby store or park

2. Carpool or take public transport whenever possible

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Taking public transportation like the MRT train or buses helps reduce carbon emission. Photo: The Star/Izzrafiq Alias

3. Find out ways to reduce energy and water usage in your home

4. Always carry reusable water bottles, bags, coffee cups and take-away containers with you

5. Recycle your waste

6. Always think twice before you buy something and ask yourself if it’s absolutely necessary

7. Plant a tree or adopt a plant

8. Go meat- or dairy-free at least once a week

9. Go paperless

10. Buy local produce