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Seven 'Pacific Standard' Stories for Earth Day

Highlighting the mess humans have made of the planet—and radical plans to fix it.

Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day, a day in which people all over the world will celebrate the planet they call home. Now in its 48th year, Earth Day mobilizes more than one billion people worldwide, making it the largest civil observance in the world.

Each year Earth Day takes on a different theme that calls people to action as part of a worldwide environmental movement. This year's celebration is dedicated to ending plastic pollution and changing human attitude and behavior toward plastic.

In honor of Earth Day, these seven Pacific Standard stories highlight the plights that humans have caused on the planet, Earth's ability to affect people's moods and personalities, and the radical means by which people are fighting pollution and climate change.

  • New research shows the extent to which our dependence on plastic is infecting, damaging, and killing coral reefs around the world.
  • Massive ecological disasters are certain, but fall on uncertain time scales. How, if at all, do we prepare? Elisa Gabbert explores the possibilities of future natural catastrophes.
  • Kate Wheeling explores the radical idea of getting the United Nations to recognize the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—a.k.a. Trash Isles—as an official nation. Would this make anyone pay more attention to pollution in our oceans?
  • On January 28th, 1969, crude oil and gas erupted from a platform off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Alarm over the disaster reverberated around the world, energizing the nascent environmental movement and leading to a slew of legislative changes. Here's our oral history of the spill.
  • Reaching all the way back to an Earth Day post from 2013, Ryan O'Hanlan debunks 10 myths surrounding Planet Earth.
  • Mexican immigrants in Chicago's are fighting for their right to clean air. Sophie Yeo writes, "the battle is simply for an acceptable quality of life, where they can breathe freely and be valued for the skills that they brought with them from their native country."
  • A new study examines the influence that the climate we live in has on shaping our personalities, and what that means in the time of climate change.