Earth Day 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Environmentalists from 1970 and 2010 compare notes.

Earth Day 2010 campaign director Nate Byer  and Earth Day 1970 organizer and chair of Earth Day 2010 Denis Hayes  compare the first Earth Day with today’s celebration. Plus, Andrew Revkin , author and New York Times writer for the Dot Earth blog, continues his weekly April visits to talk about environmental issues.

Andrew Revkin will be appearing on April 29th at “What Can We Do?”, a major transatlantic conversation about the latest on global warming, the Copenhagen climate talks, and policy options for the future.  Click here for more information, and tickets to the event.

Questions of the Day: What have been environmentalism's greatest accomplishments? And how has environmentalism left you in the cold?

Comments [32]

Batool Burney from Park slope

To celebrate the birth of a child in your family, you can plant a tree in your neighborhood. Or donate money to the city to do that. As an acknowledgment the City can put your child's name on the tree.

Apr. 22 2010 11:41 AM
Carsten from NYC

I heard a quote on NPR this morning mentioning something like "the war of extinction, the equality of the grave". I would love to find the exact source. Anybody know who made this quote? Thanks.

Apr. 22 2010 11:15 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Website:

Earth Day we think of in terms of conservation of our nature, our animals, insects, vegetation and historic landmarks and national parks and the safety of our food and safety of products and vehicles. But we should also be concerned about the discarding of books, records and back-up information in our libraries because of lack of space and funding to permit larger facilities. Also as many 78 and LP record collectors know, most of the GREAT recordings of music are no longer available for purchase or borrowing. The CD manufacturing industry could transfer to CDs these often described "masterpieces" of interpretive talent, but they find that the public's lack of knowledge, precludes investment in a losing cause. The schools do not teach the arts, fine or interpretive or creative, so how would the youngsters be aware of the cultures of the past. And, surely, the radio and TV and media generally, outside of PBS and WQXR and WNYC are deserts where classical music is concerned. Kenneth Bennett Lane, Wagnerian heldentenor and opera composer and director,.

Apr. 22 2010 11:09 AM
Alvin from Manhattan

Tod, you may be too young to remember what Walmart's policy once was. At one time, they tried to buy as much as possible from domestic manufacturers. However, the price and variety of goods from China became so large that they couldn't continue this policy. Add to this the falling purchasing power of most people in the U.S. and the fact that most Americans shop for price, regardless of how many of their fellow citizens lose their jobs. I have a lot of issues with Walmart, but fair is fair. BTW, where is your computer made? TV? Clothing? Walmart isn't responsible for that.

Apr. 22 2010 11:00 AM

don't forget the customers!!

Apr. 22 2010 10:54 AM
tod from nyc

Hey Alvn-\Thanks to Walmart for ruining our manufacturing base by setting up China for the great transfer of wealth and jobs from us to them. They are the number one enabler for a rising China, deteriorating USA. Save a dollar, but don't pay attention to the empty factories and towns all around your local Walmart!

Apr. 22 2010 10:50 AM
olivier Marcon from brooklyn


As you might remember i build furniture.

Pragmatism that leads to real understanding of environmental issues is rare.

A long time ago, i canvassed in the heart of wisconsin for greenpeace basically telling the population that the paper and pulp industry and should change to oxygen bleaching as opposed to chlorine. Anedoctately 7/10 of residents at the time work for that industry. And also against NAFTA....

PVC is the huge problem....Is it everywhere and polutes during manufacturing and disposal....

Another...... we went from metal canteen to plastic back to metal....

FSC lumber is green.

Apr. 22 2010 10:46 AM
Alvn from Manhattan

I challenge self-congratulating "greenies" to acknowledge an important step environmental forward: Say thank you, thank you, Walmart for making compact fluorescent bulbs commonplace. At one time, most environmentalists thought that CFLs were too expensive and would take many years to catch on. They had no viable strategy. A few years ago, Walmart went to manufacturers and said that if they could make bulbs that sell for 2 bucks apiece, they could sell 100 million of them. And they did it, and did more for the environment than all this show's listeners put together. Can any of you bring yourself to acknowledge the good things that big companies like Walmart do, or are you still stuck in 1970s hippie mode? If you work with business, instead of against it, more progress can be made.

Apr. 22 2010 10:43 AM
John Lobell from New York

WOW -- gotta object to the "social justice" and environmentalism -- anybody remember Eastern Europe and the USSR ?????? No capitalism, / the worst environmental horrors on the planet.

Apr. 22 2010 10:42 AM
md from brooklyn

possible failure ?
(on ingredients of products as well)

would please many
and would start people asking questions
also my organic honey nut o's are now owned by GM

Apr. 22 2010 10:41 AM
Patrick from Westchester

the environmental movement articulated the fears of nuclear power so effectively that it put us into the coal predicament we are in now…..It has come full circle. CO2 in the atmosphere, dead miners, ruined rivers.

To compete in the world economy…we will need enormous amounts of electricity…no other way to get it than through Nuclear power. All other countries will buile nuclear power plants...we need to. Does the environmental movemnet regret their effectiveness in stoppping the development of nuclear power?

Apr. 22 2010 10:37 AM
Joe from Brooklyn

Acid rain was a big success (actually thanks to G.H.W. Bush). The amount of SO2 is way down (over 50%) from the early 'eighties. Actually, if you take into account the growth in electrical production, it is down more (maybe 70-80%).

Apr. 22 2010 10:36 AM
tod from nyc

HOCKENBERRY had it right this morning: after 40 million years of Earth's history, one puny little day a year is supposed to mean something? Three times he quoted the great liberal clown Gore: "That's ridiculous!" Thank you TheTakeaway for balance on WNYC.

Apr. 22 2010 10:34 AM
Amy from Manhattan

To follow up on my phone call, I wonder how much the model of fighting ozone depletion can be adapted to fighting global climate disruption. I see several parallels, esp. the fact that although the most serious consequences are decades away, the need for action is immediate.

This is the statement I've been trying to spread: Global climate disruption is literally the most important issue in the world, because if we don't deal with it, almost every other problem in the world will get worse: health care needs, war, immigration, housing, infrastructure, and--both directly and via all the above--the economy, especially global poverty. We have to take it on, now.

Apr. 22 2010 10:34 AM

what's left me skeptical and annoyed is the celebrity's embrace and ultimate co-option of the movement...they've turned it into an accessory of fame.

Apr. 22 2010 10:33 AM

lack of attention to social justice and inequality continues to bog down environmental movement.

Apr. 22 2010 10:33 AM
The Truth from Becky

None, nothing, nada...we have not accomplished can the air be better than in the 70's when there are hundreds more cars on the road now?

Apr. 22 2010 10:29 AM
ben from brookyn

The environmental movement, is not working. The proof is in the pathetically week bill being pushed through now, with the support of major environmental groups like nrdc. The congressional budget offices, estimates that we will not even begin to reduce emissions by 2018. In the face of escalating environmental change, we are moving to slowly!!!

Apr. 22 2010 10:28 AM
Robert from NYC

I remember the first Earth Day, I was a student at Columbia. I don't remember the name of the group who was there but they set up to rally on Low Plaza in front of Alma Mater and the one part of the rally that I always remember is the that part that dealt with the pollution in the Hudson River. What the group had planned was to take water they had in a tank that was taken from the river and they had 2 gold fish in a bowl. They were going to pour the fish our into the river water and we were to watch them die from the Well we--the student onlookers--got into an uproar over killing the innocent fish and so were able to stop the MURDER!!! lol The only other thing I remember is the Earth Day flag which I liked and still do.

Apr. 22 2010 10:27 AM

hedge funds too! lots of new clean technology hedge funds starting up this year

Apr. 22 2010 10:26 AM
kay from nyc

call in commenters: earth day really cannot be a memorial to 70s feelgood moments.

Apr. 22 2010 10:24 AM
Paul from Queens, NY

I'm pretty sure that the listener who claimed that exposed copper only turns green because of pollution (acid rain) is incorrect. Copper turns green when it reacts with oxygen in the air and rain water (i.e. it "rusts"). Unlike steel or iron rust that corrodes right through the metals, coppers' oxydation forms a protective patina that prevents further corrosion.

Apr. 22 2010 10:23 AM
Laura from UWS

In a nutshell, for Earth Day Topic Today:
"here is no “away” to which things can be thrown"!

Barry Commoner, American biologist, college professor:
Four Laws of Ecology

1. Everything is Connected to Everything Else. There is one ecosphere
for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.

2. Everything Must Go Somewhere. There is no "waste" in nature and
there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.

3. Nature Knows Best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve

upon nature, but such change in a natural system is, says Commoner,
“likely to be detrimental to that system.”

4. There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Everything comes from
something. There's no such thing as spontaneous existence.

Apr. 22 2010 10:22 AM
Kim from Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

When it's Earth Day in America is it Earth Day everywhere?

It's not.

That's because Earth Day is too narrowly focused on the United States, ignoring the fact we share a planet with billions more. In a globalized world, what happens to them happens to us.

Here are two examples of the disconnect:

1. Clean fuels, green tech for rich countries... Wood, charcoal, and animal dung for the poor. Each year 2 million people -- mostly women and children -- die from indoor air pollution from inefficient combustion of biomass (wood, charcoal, animal dung). Black Carbon, a byproduct of poor biomass combustion is second only to CO2 as a climate forcer. Depending on biomass also has a major impact on local environments and the poverty cycle.
The technology is cheap and readily available. Let's bring green tech and clean fuels to the bottom of the pyramid!

2. Industrialized countries have sent the message to developing countries that they shouldn't depend on fossil fuels for their economic growth. So what are they supposed to use? And where's the funding for it? This puts the climate change/enviro movement on a collision course with the need to for poor countries to raise their citizens out of poverty.

Make no mistake, I am a conservationist. But we need to expand our horizons, folks. Go team Earth! Go Brian! Go Andy!

Apr. 22 2010 10:22 AM
Adam Cherson from NY

1) the national park system and its continuous extension on land and at sea (and as supplemented by private foundations wildlife easements).
2) the banning of CFCs and ddt
3) growing awareness that the environment is as important as the economy and national security

Apr. 22 2010 10:15 AM
Misa from Goshen, NY

Scientists in the field who bring what they've learned to the rest of the world to create change - Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots programs are a great example of that. Awareness and responsibility taken on by the WCS and the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch show the rest of us what we can do on a daily basis to help.

"Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference."
-Jane Goodall

Apr. 22 2010 10:14 AM

one big victory is, more people think about the needs of the earth (and the need for us to live on a healthy earth)
one defeat too many people aren't getting the connection between consumerism and waste.

Apr. 22 2010 10:13 AM
kay from nyc

environmental justice movements and organizations like sustainable south bronx. acknowledgment of such disparate figures as steven chu and wangari maathai.

Apr. 22 2010 10:09 AM
Brian from Weehawken

The discovery of Clean Coal.

Apr. 22 2010 10:08 AM
David from W. 67th St.

The movement towards solar, wind and geothermal sources of energy is perhaps the most significant achievement of the environmental movement. But I was confused and disappointed that Robert Kennedy, who has done such fine work with Riverkeeper, sided with the very narrow opposition to establishing a large wind farm off of Cape Cod. I can understand NIMBYism if something will be literally in your backyard, but this project was to be miles offshore.

Apr. 22 2010 10:07 AM

on earth day with the explosion of an oil rig off the southeast coast of Louisiana can we rethink obama's recent OK to offshore drilling?

Apr. 22 2010 09:50 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from

It cannot be overemphasized what is the importance of all of us participating in GREEN activities to achieve a healthier, happier, financially solvent world wherein ALL will benefit.
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Wagnerian heldentenor, opera composer and director.

Apr. 22 2010 09:07 AM

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