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Celebrate 50+ Green Holidays

Celebrate 50+ Green Holidays

Did you know there are more than 50 green holidays?

Earth Day is considered somewhat of a “Hallmark Holiday” for most environmentalists. We’re all about living our lives as sustainably as possible—some more than others—on a daily basis. It’s not about perfection, though, it’s about doing our best with what we’ve got. Take me, for example: It makes no sense for me to buy a hybrid car when I already own a somewhat decent 2003 VW station wagon with less than 80,000 miles. If we could afford solar panels, they’d be on my roof right now. I do, however, buy organic food and limit my family’s meat consumption whenever possible. You’ll find absolutely no plastic baggies or storage containers in my house, but you’ll see the environmental-disaster-waiting-to-happen keurig single-cup coffee machine on my kitchen counter (a gift to my son purchased by my hubby, despite my pleading against it). Fortunately, they drink the coffee only on weekends.

I’m happy there’s an Earth Day—it’s important to remind the world that the Earth is worth celebrating and that there are things we can do to help make the world safer for future generations. What better day than Earth Day to kick off a new eco-resolution, whether it’s switching to eco-friendly home cleaning products and organic food or adding solar panels to your roof. Or maybe you’re ready to go meatless on Mondays. Or use reusable shopping bags every time you go shopping.

However, Earth Day isn’t the only environmental holiday.

Here’s a list of more than 50 green holidays you could celebrate virtually every day.

  • Green New Year’s Resolution – Jan. 1 (a made up holiday, but why not participate?)

  • World Wetlands Day – Feb. 2

  • World Sparrow Day – March 20

  • World Forestry Day – March 21

  • World Water Day – March 22

  • World Meteorological Day – March 23

  • Earth Hour – Last Saturday of March

  • Earth Day – April 22

  • Chemists Celebrate Earth Day – April 22

  • Arbor Day – Last Friday in April (each state also has its own observation based on best tree planting time)

  • Green Up Day – first Saturday of May in Vermont

  • International Migratory Bird Day – Second Saturday in May in the U.S. and Canada

  • Greenery Day – May 4 in Japan (previously April 29)

  • International Day for Biological Diversity (World Biodiversity Day) – May 22

  • Bike-to-Work Day – Third Friday in May

  • National Trails Day – First Saturday in June

  • World Environment Day – June 5

  • World Oceans Day – June 8

  • Global Wind Day – June 15

  • World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought – June 17

  • World Population Day – July 11

  • International Tiger Day – July 29

  • National Wildlife Day – Sept. 4

  • International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer – Sept. 16

  • Clean Up the World Weekend – Third weekend in September

  • Zero Emissions Day – Sept. 21

  • International Day of Peace – Sept. 21

  • World Car Free Day – Sept. 22

  • Ecological Debt Day (Earth Overshoot Day) – Aug. 20 in 2013 but changes. It’s the (claimed) approximate calendar date on which humanity’s resource consumption for the year exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources that year. Since 2001, Overshoot Day has moved ahead by an average of three days per year.

  • World Rivers Day – Every last Sunday in September

  • World Habitat Day – First Monday in October

  • World Vegetarian Day – Oct. 1

  • World Animal Day – Oct. 4

  • International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction – Second Wednesday in October

  • World Planting Day – Oct. 22

  • International Day of Climate Action – Oct. 24

  • World Vegan Day – Nov. 1

  • International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict – Nov. 6

  • America Recycles Day – Nov. 15(ish)

  • World Soil Day – Dec. 5

  • International Mountain Day – Dec. 11

Here are special week-long, year-long and even decade-long environmental/ earth related events. Keep in mind, the actual dates vary by year.

  • National Park Week – April 19-27

  • Dark Sky Week – April 20-26

  • Bike to Work Week Victoria

  • National Clean Beaches Week – July 1-7

  • Conservation Week

  • European Mobility Week – Sept. 16-22

  • Bike Week – Second week in June

  • Recycle Week – June 20-26

  • Green Office Week

  • Junk Mail Awareness Week – First week of October

  • European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) – Nine days, last complete week in November

  • No Car Day – Week of Sept. 22 in China

  • United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development – 2005-2014

  • Water for Life Decade – 2005-2015

  • United Nations Decade on Biodiversity – 2010-2020

Did I miss any?

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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