End of days

Posted on | March 22, 2010 | 10 Comments

Today is “World Water Day.” Yippee. Yikes. Whatever. It would be hypocritical of me not to confess to using the occasional chronological gimmick to further pet causes (highlighting March as “Red Cross month” on this site after the Chilean earthquake is a recent example.) But, as a rule, this kind of thing confuses me. Who in their right mind thought, “Hey, we’re wrecking the world. I’ve got an idea! Let’s name a special day (week, year).”

Climate Week didn’t stop the Chinese from upending Copenhagen talks. Forty years of “Earth Day” did nothing to stop the generation that first celebrated it from popularizing the SUV. World Water Day has a hilariously well hydrated-looking Nestle executive in the news.

As we parse the mess we make, dare we conclude that special days are so last century, that while the event-ification of creeping disaster keeps a lot of excitable PRs busy, chronological gimmicks don’t do a damn bit of good for our blue marble? A modest proposal: How about we grow up, fire the event organizers and get down to 365 programs that actually work?

*The headline was changed shortly after posting.


10 Responses to “End of days”

  1. Wayne Bossert
    March 22nd, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

    A bit dour and possibly even anti-establishment, but I basically agree with Emily and often wish there were more action and less rhetoric.

    On the other hand, I don’t suppose anyone knows how many of the good and excellent water-related efforts around the world had been inspired by these kinds of events, but if there have been only a handful, can we for sure say that they have not been worth the effort?

    To me it’s a matter of degree. Keep the events scoped and going in the appropriate venues to inspire what they may, but certainly don’t mortgage the farm in the hopes they’ll solve all our problems. To me, this year’s World Water Day seems to be using more than average energy and effort – that could better be used for the actual sake of water.

  2. Eric Perramond
    March 22nd, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

    Oh, I do love that dark streak of yours. Fantastic. Nothing drives me…ok, FEW things drive me more nuts than celebrating “—– day” or “—— week”, especially as someone who teaches environmental science & policy.
    Batty it doth make me.

  3. Chris Austin
    March 22nd, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

    World Water Day …

  4. Chris Austin
    March 22nd, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

    yawn ….

  5. Chris Brooks
    March 23rd, 2010 @ 9:08 am

    It’s very easy for those who work in water day in and day out to snipe about the need for a feel-good World Water Day (I’ve been guilty of it myself). But the sad truth is that most people in rich countries are blissfully unaware of the appalling state of water infrastructure in poor countries and anything that helps to raise awareness and motivate at least a few people to take action will improve the situation at least incrementally. Informing and educating are incredibly important with issues that most people take for granted.

  6. Susan Remson
    March 23rd, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

    I agree with Chris. Most of the people in my world don’t give any thought to water on any day and most likely didn’t pay attention on World Water Day either. Yet even if one or two people learned about it because they read my posting on my blog, perhaps on their way to looking for something else,then it’s worth having a World Water Day. I live in sight of one of the greatest sources of fresh water (Lake Michigan) and most of my neighbors assume it will always be there – and that it will always be clean (is it now?). At least the Asian carp issue has gotten it some attention recently but whatever we can do to raise awareness is a step in the right direction.

  7. Robert Emanuel
    March 24th, 2010 @ 10:05 am

    Yikes–very cynical perspective this time, Emily. While your opinion speaks to my Gen-X cynic’s heart, I am all in favor of harnessing some temporary energy that can be garnered from these types of events. Even if World Water Day just seems to keep PR flacks busy at big corporations and is wired to the slow drip of the United Nations, I don’t think it just another vanity event. It brings eyeballs and occasional political attention to issues that us water wonks consider critical. What is the alternative to 1 day of attention? None I would venture, and that gets us less than we have now.

    Instead of dismissing this as a moot point, lets either ignore or it pipe up, and then spend the remaining 364 days working to keep some attention and resources focused on the issues.

  8. EmilyGreen
    March 24th, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

    Hi Robert, thanks for the comment. I woke up weary of an approach that doesn’t seem to be working. I’m not sure that makes me cynical; surely cynicism would be persisting as if nothing is wrong while aware that there is? Smart people have argued in favor of the awareness days approach on this blog. I hope they are right. I’m grateful for those who care enough to weigh in and speak their minds either way on this. I wouldn’t mind being wrong. -EG

  9. Robert Emanuel
    March 31st, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

    Thanks Emily. But then I just read Tony Davis’ article from my old pueblo–Tucson and I have to sigh and wonder how starry-eyed I’ve become!


    Thanks for all you write. –Rob

  10. Religious Leaders: We Dishonor God When 4,500 Children Die Daily For Want of Safe Water : AWRA Water Blog
    April 4th, 2010 @ 9:18 am

    […] more in favor of a Interfaith World Water Year (forgive me, Emily) than a World Water Day, which has been forgotten by […]

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