tagReviews & Essays40 Earth Day Facts

40 Earth Day Facts


In honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, here are 40 fun, interesting, and/or thought provoking facts about the Earth and about Earth Day.

In celebration of Earth day, here are some things you may not know about our planet and about Earth Day.

Earth Day Fact #1

Earth Day, observed in 175 countries, is the third largest celebrated holiday and the largest secular modern day holiday in the world.

"Duh, even though the holiday is called Earth Day, I didn't realize that it was celebrated the world over. I just thought it was an American holiday."

Earth Day Fact #2

A relatively new holiday, it was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 with more than 20 million Americans participating in the first holiday.

"Happy 40th anniversary, Earth Day."

Earth Day Fact #3

Credited with creating the environmentalism movement, the founding of Earth Day was attributed to Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.

"I never heard of the Senator, but thank you Senator Gaylord Nelson for creating Earth Day. Now, only if we can make this a federal holiday and have the day off to go watch a baseball game, while having a hot dog and a cold beer, I mean, of course, to celebrate Earth Day, while planting a tree and recycling."

Earth Day Fact #4

So, why was April 22nd chosen as Earth Day? Some say that April 22nd was chosen because it was the day of a famous person's birthday, namely 1970 was Lenin's 100 year birthday or Francis of Assisi or Queen Isabella birthdays. Then there are those who say it was chosen to keep it within the relatively same proximity of Arbor Day, the last Friday in April, this year falling on April 30th.

"Even though we don't know really why April 22nd was chosen as the day to celebrate Earth Day, I'm sure someone reading this will know the answer."

Earth Day Fact #5

By the way, Saint Francis is the patron Saint of ecologists. Mayor Joseph Alioto of San Francisco made the first proclamation of Earth Day in 1970.

"Hey, these are good cocktail party tidbits to share or can be used as ice breakers to pick up that guy or gal at the bar."

"Pardon me, but did you know that Saint Francis was named the patron saint of ecology because he was the first to pickup and put discarded lottery scratch tickets in the trash?"

The desperate man, hoping to pick up a good looking woman, sat next to her at the bar, when by the look that she shot him, it was obvious that she'd rather be alone.

"Get away from me, you weirdo, or I'll call the bouncer."

Okay, admittedly, sometimes these Earth Day tidbits don't always work as hoped, when trying to pick up that guy or gal at the bar.

Earth Day Fact #6

Earth Day is all about conservationism and the ecology. The holiday is a reminder that none of us should ever underestimate the importance of recycling. With only 27% of all American newspapers being recycled, if we recycled every newspaper, 250,000 trees could be saved each year.

"A quarter million trees is a lot of trees, a huge number, especially when you think about how many trees are lost to forest fires, lumberjacks, and beavers, for that matter. Timber!"

Earth Day Fact #7

For every ton of recycled paper, we save 7,000 gallons of chemical free water and that's enough to save 17 trees.

"Do the math. That's a lot of trees. Now that I think of it, all the water that I drink, especially the water from the tap, has chemicals in it. Call me a pessimist, but I have a sinking feeling that there's no such place as Poland Springs."

Earth Day Fact #8

Recycled paper requires 65% less energy than it takes to make paper from virgin wood pulp. Further, recycling paper saves even more trees. The amount of wood and paper we throw away in one year is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.

"Read that fact again, it's astonishing, 50 million homes for 20 years. I can't imagine the huge forest we'd have, if we saved all those trees. Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel, would never find their way home, I don't care home many breadcrumbs they left behind."

Earth Day Fact #9

Recycling one aluminum can is equivalent to using half a gallon of gasoline and saves enough energy to watch three hours of television.

"Yep, it's true. That fact surprised me, too. If only I could fill my gas tank with empty beer cans, I'd be a happy man."

"Honey," said Sheila to her husband. "Why suddenly are you drinking so much more beer, while watching so much more television?"

"I'm recycling, saving on electricity, and filling my gas tank at the same time," said Bob to his wife. "It's a win/win/win/win. I get to drink more beer, while saving on electricity. Also, I'm helping the environment by recycling and I'm saving on gas."

"I think you need to see a doctor for help, dear," said Sheila.

Earth Day Fact #10

With 5 billion aluminum cans used each year, it takes 90% less energy to recycle aluminum cans than it does to make new ones.

"Now, so that you don't feel so much like a trash picker when you stop and take a can out of the garbage or off the street to recycle it and get a 5 cent deposit, too, tell anyone who asks that you're helping to save the planet."

Earth Day Fact #11

For you chocolate lovers out there, more than 20,000,000 Hershey's Kisses are wrapped each day in 133 square miles of tinfoil. Fortunately, all of that tinfoil is recyclable.

"I had no idea Hershey sold so many Hershey's Kisses. I can't imagine twenty million Hershey's Kisses made every day, that's 600 million Hershey's Kisses in a month and 7.3 billion Hershey's Kisses in a year, enough to give everyone on the planet a Hershey's Kiss and still have half a billion left over for me. Wow."

Earth Day Fact #12

Why must we recycle? More than 85% of household waste can be recycled. The energy we save when recycling one glass bottle is enough energy to burn a light bulb for 4 hours. More than one third of all energy used is used by people at home.

"I wonder who is using the other 2/3rds. It's got to be the Chinese. They're sneaky."

Earth Day Fact #13

It takes 500 years for plastics and aluminum cans to break down. It only takes six months for organic materials and cotton, rags, and paper to break down. With each person throwing out about 4 pounds of garbage a day and with more than 200 of the world's landfills already filled to capacity by 1995, the garbage in a landfill lasts about 30 years. Most families throw out about 88 pounds of plastics a year. Fourteen billion pounds of trash is dumped in the ocean each year.

"Imagine an archeologist or an extraterrestrial alien in 2510 finding a Budweiser can and not knowing what it is."

Earth Day Fact #14

Don't you feel bad for the fish in the ocean? No? You should, as well as we should be more concerned for our health, when eating fish. The fish are eating our trash and then we are eating them. Eww. To be honest, as I'm not sure how safe it is for any of us to eat fish, it may be even more harmful for children, the elderly, and pregnant people to consume tainted fish.

"Hmm, maybe instead of having a fish dinner, we could save some money and just bypass the fish and eat some trash. What do you think? Unfortunately, it's almost that bad. Is it any wonder so many people are dying of cancer, after eating foods that may be contaminated?"

I can only imagine a person going to the doctor and hearing the bad news of his cancer diagnosis.

"I don't understand, Doctor. I don't drink; I don't smoke; I watch what I eat; and I exercise. Moreover, there's no history of cancer in my family. How can I possible have cancer?"

"Hmm, have you eaten any fish, lately?"

Earth Day Fact #15

Because of much of the dangerous material that makes up computers, they pose an environmental threat, a nightmare, actually. A typical monitor contains 4-5 pounds of poisonous lead.

"I didn't know that? They must be talking about the old CRT's and not the new LCD's. No wonder why those things were so heavy. My new LCD monitor is so much lighter."

Earth Day Fact #16

With billions of used batteries thrown away in the United States alone, batteries are responsible for 90% of the mercury and 55% of the cadmium deposited in our landfills.

"Holy shit. You have to feel bad for all those dead Eveready Energizer bunnies."

Earth Day Fact #17

So many of our landfills are so polluted that only 10% can be cleaned.

"Actually, you have to feel bad for people who work cleaning toxic landfill dumps. Talk about hazardous duty, I wouldn't want to do that dirty and dangerous job."

Earth Day Fact #18

We are even more wasteful with water every day than we are with some of the other wasteful things that we do in the course of a day, such as fossil fuels. Yet, just to give you some earthy facts to put things in perspective, the average person uses 3-7 gallons of water for the toilet and 25-30 gallons for the bathtub. If they take a 10 minute shower, they use 50-70 gallons of water. The average washing machine load uses 25-40 gallons of water and one dishwasher load uses 9-12 gallons of water. We each use about 12,000 gallons of water a year with 4,000 gallons of that used just to flush the toilet.

Earth Day Fact #19

Even though Earth is two thirds water, fresh water streams represent only one hundredth of one percent, an infinitesimal amount of the water on Earth.

"Just what I thought. I knew there was no such place as Poland Springs. Nonetheless, it makes me thirsty just reading about all this water. Since, we all must do our part to conserve water, I'm doing my part. Bartender, hold the water and hold the ice, I'll just have a scotch neat."

Earth Day Fact #20

For those of you who must take your cars to work, for those of you who are tired and aggravated being gridlocked in traffic, one bus holds enough people to replace 40 cars on the expressway.

"Besides, by taking a public transportation to work, you can read a book, make a cell phone call, text, shave, do you eye makeup, and/or drink your coffee and eat breakfast, all while you travel. Oh, you do all of that anyway, while driving your car?"

Earth Day Fact #21

With each gallon of gasoline burned releasing 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air, the 500 million automobiles on Earth are responsible for using 2 gallons of fossil fuel per day, which translates to 1 billion gallons of fossil fuels per day, and that translates to a staggering 20 billion pounds of carbon dioxide daily.

"Wow with a billion gallons of fossil fuels burned daily, is it any wonder why Exxon has the most profits of all the companies in the world?"

Earth Day Fact #22

In addition to driving our cars, we must heat our homes. We Earthlings consume more than 3 billion gallons of oil per day, with the United States using more than its fair share and more than it really needs to use. Think about that the next time you take an unnecessary trip in your car or crank up the thermostat, instead of reaching for a sweater.

Earth Day Fact #23

The oil and the other fossil fuels we burn is the main reason for global warming. The carbon dioxide, 70 million tons of it, slowly nudges the planet's temperature upward.

"If the planet warms up enough, forget the sweater. We'll all be roasting."

Earth Day Fact #24

Unfortunately, 5 million tons of oil each year finds its way to the ocean.

"If a gallon of oil weighs 6 to 8 pounds depending on the density of the oil, then 5 million tons of oils would translate to, suffice to say, a lot of gallons of oil. Wow."

Earth Day Fact #25

Amazingly, just one gallon of motor oil can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of water. The proper disposal of oil is extremely important to protect not only the environment but also our food supply.

"So, let me get this straight. If only one gallon of motor oil can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of water, and 5 million tons of oil finds its way to the ocean each year, then, basically, we're all fucked. The fish we eat are digesting the oil that we spilled and left in the ocean that we contaminated. Can you say Exxon Valdez oil spill? Again, is it any wonder why so many of us die each year of cancer?"

Earth Day Fact #26

Meanwhile, twenty years later, Exxon is still fighting after losing a class action lawsuit of 32,000 people for loss of income and the permanent damage to a community where the spill happened. After waiting more than 20 years for a settlement, the plaintiffs are demanding that Exxon pay interest on their court ordered more than 500 million dollar settlement."

Earth Day Fact #27

With only 11% of the Earth's surface used to grow food, it's important that we not waste food. Too many people go to bed hungry at night. We all need to appreciate the blessings we have been given.

"I'm hungry just reading this. Does anyone have a Twinkie or a Snickers?"

Earth Day Fact #28

This information taken from the United Nations food program, each year, 18,000 children die from chronic hunger, malnutrition, and related diseases. During the course of a year, 800 million people will go to bed so hungry that they will be unproductive when they awaken the next day.

"Wow, 800 million, that's a big number. Think of that the next time you're eating your big Mac or leaving food on your plate and dumping your vegetables down the garbage disposal. Making a difference between life and death, some starving person would kill for that bit of food. Actually, now that I think about it, eating too much food can make you just as unproductive. Maybe I shouldn't have had all that Chinese food for lunch. Now, that I've had such a big lunch, I think I'll call it a day, take the rest of the day off, and go home."

Earth Day Fact #29

Yellowstone National Park in the United States, established in 1872, was the world's first national Park.

"I didn't know that. Did you? I should have known that. I've watched enough of Hannah and Barbera's Yogi Bear and Boo Boo cartoons."

Earth Day Fact #30

Established on Pelican Island, Florida, the first wildlife refuge was created in 1903.

"Interesting. Even more than a hundred years ago, 70 years before the creation of Earth Day, we had environmentalists."

Earth Day Fact #31

Sponsored by the United Nations, Sweden held the first major international conference on environmental issues in 1972. Made from coins given by school children to further peace on our planet, the ringing of the Peace Bell, given to the United Nations by Japan, is the highlight of the annual Earth Day ceremony.

"I just love these cool tidbits of information. They come in handy at a cocktail party, when you're trying to impress someone with an off-the-cuff, casual comment. Only, I can picture myself getting confuse, after having a couple of drinks and forgetting the actual information.

"Say, did you know that Sweden gave Japan a Peace Bell made from quarters? No, wait, that's not right. Maybe it was pennies. Actually, American currency has nothing to do with Sweden and Japan. Hey, does anyone know what the currency is in Japan or was it Sweden? Never mind."

Earth Day Fact #32

In the course of a year, having already completed this process 4.6 billion times, since the Earth is estimated to be 4.6 billion years old, the Earth will travel 1.6 million miles annually around the Sun and will rotate only once about its axis. Taking in consideration those of us who die, the Earth's population will still grow by more than 210,000 people daily. Damn, that's nearly 77 million more people a year. No wonder why there's no jobs.

"To be honest, this is too much for me to wrap my mini brain around. I can't imagine the Earth spinning. Wait, I'm dizzy. Bartender, give me another drink. Make it a double this time and hold the water and hold the ice, again. I'm trying to do my part to save the planet."

Earth Day Fact #33

Just in the course of one year, decimated through the erosion of croplands, 200 million tons of topsoil will be lost. Mainly from forest fires, 50,000 acres of forest will die. Due to solar heating, 40,000 acres of land will become desert.

"Wow, it makes me never want to leave my house. Oh, wait, I live in the city. I'm safe from forest fires."

Earth Day Fact #34

We had everything we needed to survive and thrive on this planet called Earth. All of it is in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, and on the land we inhabit. Unfortunately, we still know so little about every creature, insect, and plant, most of which haven't even been catalogued and identified and some of them have already gone extinct. We cannot even possibly conceive the damage we are doing and have already done to our planet. Each year between 20 and 500 species of life will disappear from the Earth forever.

"Wouldn't it be tragic, if the antidote we needed from a plant or an animal, to save us from some future virus that has spread the world over, has already gone extinct?"

Earth Day Fact #35

Miners and mining will strip the Earth of 3 million tons of iron ore, 575 tons of tin, 330 thousand tons of bauxite, used for aluminum, and 34 thousand tons of copper.

"Is that in one year? Holy shit. I can't imagine anything weighing millions of tons, not even a plane, a ship, or a rocket. I still can't understand how anything that heavy can float in water and not sink and fly in the sky and not crash."

Earth Day Fact #36

After that recent mine explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia where 25 miners were lost due to negligence and flagrant mining violations by the CEO and owner of the mine, Don Blankenship. Not just an Earth Day fact is the reality of our need for fossil fuels, such as coal, that puts the lives of miners in jeopardy every day. Our prayers are with the families of the lost miners.

Earth Day Fact #37

According to the CIA, in 2009, the world spent 3,000 billion dollars on military expenditures, half of that amount, 1,500 billion is spent by one country, the United States, up from 964 billion in 2008.

"Is it any wonder we need all that mined metal for tanks, planes, ships, guns, and bullets? Yeah, for curiosity sake, I wonder how much the Republicans have spent for the military versus the Democrats."

Earth Day Fact #38

Publishers will publish 550 thousand books.

"Damn, I hope that's not one book by one writer. Maybe, it's another Harry Potter story."

Actually, the publication of all those books may may explain why illiteracy in the United States has gone way down. Presently out of 300 million people in the U.S., only 30,000, one hundredth of one percent, are illiterate, not bad."

Earth Day Fact #39

Pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools will educate 1.3 billion children.

"I wouldn't want to be in that classroom at lunch time. Does anyone want a juice box?"

Earth Day Fact #40

More than 100 billion e-mail messages will be sent with spam accounting for 40% of that amount.

"It seems, sometimes, I get that many in a day. If anyone needs a deal on Viagra, I get those spam mails every day and the sad thing is that I'm a woman (lol)."

Happy Earth Day.

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