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Making every day Earth Day – literally

By / June 8, 2009

Jake Turcotte

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It's June 8, and you know what that means: Happy World Oceans Day!

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We understand that you might still be exhausted from having just celebrated World Environment Day this past Friday, International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22, and Bike to Work Day on May 14, but we hope that you can muster a little more energy today to, you know, think about the oceans.

We know what you're thinking: Didn't we just have a World Oceans Day?

Nope. You're probably confusing it with World Water Day, which was held on March 22 (the day after World Forestry Day), or perhaps World Wetlands Day, which was Feb. 2.

You'd think that the world's weather experts would be a bit peeved about someone declaring a wetlands holiday on Groundhog Day, but don't worry: The weather people got their due on March 23, World Meteorological Day, in which participants – and we're sure you were one of them – took some time to think about "weather, climate and the air we breathe."

And then five days later, on March 28, you pondered the atmosphere a little more during Earth Hour, when we all turned our lights off for an hour (and possibly made things worse with all those paraffin candles).

Things settled down the following month, when the only major environmental holiday was the big one – Earth Day – on April 22, followed two days later by Arbor Day, an old holiday that has fallen out of vogue, perhaps because planting a tree requires physical labor.

But we're only halfway through the year. Next Monday is National Get Outdoors Day followed by World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on Wednesday, and then it's time to gear up for World Population Day (July 11), National Wildlife Day (Sept. 4), World Ozone Day (Sept. 16), Green Consumer Day (Sept. 28), World Vegetarian Day (Oct. 1; not to be confused with World Vegan Day, which is Nov. 1), World Animal Day (Oct. 4), World Habitat Day (Oct. 5), World Food Day (Oct. 16), America Recycles Day (Nov. 15), and International Mountain Day (Dec. 11).

The purpose of all these days, of course, is to Raise Awareness. Environmental degradation, the thinking goes, is not caused by running linear systems of production in a world of finite resources; rather, it's caused by mass ignorance. But by getting Congress – or better still, the UN – to designate a calendar date as an "official" observance of your cause, it will help you increase Awareness, allowing you to distribute more pamphlets, T-shirts, silicone bracelets, magnetic car ribbons, tote bags, mugs, calendars, and so on, raising Awareness even more.

Once Awareness has passed a certain threshold, congrats! Your job is done. Now it's time for the problem to be fixed by someone else – such as the government, or maybe Google.

Of course, this threshold has not been crossed yet, which explains why the oceans continue to fill with garbage, species continue to vanish at an alarming rate, and greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise.

But don't worry. By my count, there are at least 340 days of the year that still aren't designated as environmental awareness days. There's still much work to be done, but at least we all know the way forward.

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