GREEN

Earth Day Is Nearly Here, But Our Planet Is Worth Caring About Every Day

04/17/2015 05:23 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2015

Earth Day is nearly upon us. The April 22 event, now in its 45th year, is meant to help draw attention to environmental issues, but remember, there are 364 other days to care about the planet.

Things have changed in the U.S. since the first Earth Day, in 1970, when rampant air pollution, burning rivers and more frequent oil spills were major concerns. Despite the improvements here, other countries around the world still face issues like air and water pollution.

The threat of global climate change also looms large, as temperature records continue to be broken and sea level rise accelerates.

Take a look at these Instagram photos that capture the world's ongoing environmental challenges, and keep in mind to make every day Earth Day.

Photo by @jbrussell / @panospictures for #everydayclimatechange Men from the #Moor village of #Seibath in #Mali walk across a small dam that was built to help retain rain water. #Globalwarming and #climatechange have caused prolonged drought and erratic rainy seasons across the #Sahel in recent years, contributing to food insecurity, poverty and human migration throughout the region. One of the problems with the disrupted cycles of rainy and dry seasons is that when the rains do fall, the water rapidly runs off the parched landscape and very little is retained for crops or absorbed into the water table. Improved water management systems such as this dam help retain rain waters, increase seepage into the water table, improve agricultural yields and extend the planting season, allowing rural communities to better adopt to the nefarious effects of climate change. #Africa #climatechangeisreal #drought #environment #ecology #development

A photo posted by Everyday Climate Change (@everydayclimatechange) on

Joao Pereira de Araujo outsidre his home in Rio Branco. While flooding is a regular event in this poor community situated in a loop on the River Aceh, residents have never seen water levels this high. Even the houses built on stilts were flooded up to the roof on their top level. As you can see I have been busy over the six days of shooting here, but today I had my first mishap- While walking through the water shooting video I managed to stand on a nail which went through the boot of my waders and pierced my foot. So it looks like I will be hobbling through my last two days of shooting in leaking waders. I am now in my 9th year of working on this #drowningworld project and I am so pleased to be starting a collaboration with Blue Media Lab whose support made this trip possible. #climatechange #globalwarming #gideonmendel #brazil

A photo posted by @gideonmendel on

A bedouin mother rinses a glass from the sand before offering tea to her daughter. Today is World Water Day. Water is an important reason why humans have chosen the achingly arid stone desert of Wadi Faynan for their first settlement. When Neolithic men and women arrived 11,500 years ago, things were very different: the climate was cooler and wetter; the landscape was covered in vegetation including wild figs, legumes and cereals, and there would have been wild goats and ibex for meat. Wadi Faynan is considered by archeologist as one of the oldest sites ever found where humans made a permanent settlement, learned to farm, and changed the course of human civilization. But the tiny community drawn to water, which attracted successive waves of settlements, would eventually all but destroy the resource which made life possible. It is a pattern that's been repeated for millenia, around the world, and it now threatens us on a global scale. First people cut trees for shelter and fuel, until rains swept away the soil instead of seeping into shallow aquifers, and the springs dried up. At least as long ago as the Bronze Age, farmers began mankind's obsession with diverting water for crops to feed the growing population. Meanwhile, the moist, cool climate which encouraged the first settlement was naturally becoming drier and hotter. Today, Bedouin who survive in the valley have laid pipes down the dry stream bed to suck what is left of the spring in order to irrigate fields of tomatoes they have scratched out of the dry soil. But it's getting harder. According to local water lore, good rains now come in less than every other year. Jordan is one of the most water-scarce countries on earth, averaging just 160m3 of renewable water per person per year. #worldwaterday #jordan #middleeast #water #watershortage #jordanwatercrisis #climatechange #bedouins #desert

A photo posted by Matilde Gattoni (@matildegattoni) on

Monarch butterfly larvae in the garden at our Wellington house. #NZ #NewZealand #Monarchbutterfly #butterfly #insects

A photo posted by Formidable Vegetable Sound Sys (@formidableveg) on

_ Incredible day exploring new heights Squaw (now Tumala) Mountain, Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness _

A photo posted by Dan Moe (@free_cascadia) on

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