Agencies celebrate Earth Day with hashtags, 'selfies'

Tuesday - 4/22/2014, 9:56am EDT

As people worldwide plant trees on Earth Day, federal agencies are taking a virtual approach to celebrating the planet.

From 'selfies' to hashtags, agencies have asked Americans to actively participate in Earth Day by using social media.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo launched an Earth Day campaign to increase awareness of endangered Sumatran tigers.

Teaming up with the band "Portugal. The Man," the zoo released 400 copies of a previously unreleased song, representing only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.

(Listen to Endangered Song below)

"The song was lace-cut onto custom polycarbonate records, and they are actually designed to degrade after a certain amount of plays," Pamela Baker-Masson, associate director of communications for the zoo, said on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.

After 400 plays, the song goes extinct and can no longer be played. The only way to save the song is to "breed" the music by sharing it on social media using #EndangeredSong.

The zoo distributed the records to people it believed would create a "viral, digital great explosion of the song through social media," Baker-Masson said.

"We want people to understand that it's not too late to take action," she said.

NASA's approach to commemorate the day took advantage of the popularized selfie. The space agency asked social media users to post photos of themselves using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.

The responses flooded in from all over the world. NASA will compile the photos into a mosaic of the Earth.

The Environmental Protection Agency hosts a series of events throughout the week. On Earth Day, the EPA used a tool known as Thunderclap.

"You agree to let Thunderclap send a specific, one-time message on your behalf to your social networks on Earth Day April 22 at 12:00 pm EDT," EPA wrote on its website. "If 500 or more people agree, the message will go out on everyone's walls and feeds at the same time. But if fewer than 500 agree, nothing happens."

Two hours before launch, nearly 900 supporters had signed up for Thunderclap.

EPA also solicited photos through its #NatureSelfie photo project. The agency asked people to take a photo of themselves in front of a flower, tree or other blooming plant and post it to the Earth Day NatureSelfies Flickr page.

People can also share photos on other social media using #NatureSelfie.

"You don't have to travel great distances to connect with nature," EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said. "This is a fun and easy way for people to connect with nature and observe possible impacts of climate change."

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