The Power of 10: Group Turns 10/10/10 Into an Environmental Holiday

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As Daily Finance's Jon Berr recently reported, Sunday, October 10, 2010 will be a banner day for the numerologically inclined. Through 10/10/10 themed sales and vacation specials, wedding packages and induced births, thousands -- if not millions -- will take advantage of a handy, easy-to-remember date that only comes along once per century. But, while the internet is filled with chatter over the day, one event seems to have gained particular attention: 350.org, an international climate-control group, has declared Sunday as a day of action, and more than 7,000 community organizations have partnered to dedicate 10/10/10 to environmental work across the globe.

A year ago, 350.org launched its first public action day. Titled the "International Day of Climate Action," it involved 5,245 coordinated rallies and demonstrations across 180 countries. Event organizers hailed it as "the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history" -- an evaluation that many in the media seconded. Unfortunately, while the October 24th event drew public attention and demonstrated a groundswell of grass-roots concern about environmental action, it didn't make a big impact at that fall's U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen, and negotiations for global warming initiatives faltered.

Stepping It Up

This year, 350.org decided to take its plans one step further. The group's "Global Work Day" on Sunday is designed to show that concerned members of the public aren't only interested in demonstrations, but are willing to get their hands dirty. In an interview with Daily Finance, Jamie Henn, global communications director for 350.org, was slightly more pointed in his description, noting that "We wanted to show our politicians what real work on the environment looks like."

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To a certain extent, any day would be appropriate for a global work party. But Henn notes that Sunday's early-October event fits well into the political calendar. In America, "We're three weeks out from the midterm elections," which translates into a major show of political will as Senate and Congressional candidates go into the final swing of their campaigns. Internationally, October also works well. Once again, the U.N. is holding a climate change summit, and Sunday's work event coincides nicely with diplomatic negotiations about the conference.

Convenient Numerology

Ultimately, though, 350.org chose October 10 because it's a catchy date that sticks in the mind. Henn also notes, however, that the date fits in well with his group's ethos: "In large part, we picked 10-10-10 because of our love of numerology and digits. After all, our name comes from another number: 350 parts per million."

Henn is referring to 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide, a target number that, his group argues, represents a safe distance from the tipping point at which global warming will have irreparable effects. Currently, the number is at an estimated 387 parts per million.

While some holidays, like July 4 and October 11, commemorate specific events, most public holidays aren't tied to a specific date; rather, they represent a day on which politicians, marketers, or the public decided to celebrate a specific concern or group. In that context, October 10 might be a good, easily-remembered day for global climate action. 350.org, however, is not ready to commit to a consistent day or action just yet: "We haven't set any date for next year," Henn admits. "We plan to focus on what we think is necessary, and we're not sure if another day of action will be the most effective event at that time."
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