Earth Days (2009) Movie Script

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If we do what is right
now, in 1963,
we must set aside
substantial areas of our country
for all the people
who are going to live in it
by the year 2000.
Where 180 million
Americans now live,
by the year 2000 there will be
350 million of them.
Either we stop
the poisoning in our air
or we become a nation
in gas masks,
groping our way
through these dying cities
and a wilderness of ghost towns
that the people have evacuated.
The great question
of the '70s is:
Shall we surrender
to our surroundings
or shall we make
our peace with nature
and begin to make reparations
for the damage we have done
to our air, to our land,
and to our water?
And accelerate development
of technology,
to capture energy
from the Sun and the Earth
for this and future generations.
If we fail to act soon,
we will face an economic,
social and political crisis
that will threaten
our free institutions.
We must and will be sensitive
to the delicate balance
of our ecosystems,
the preservation
of endangered species,
and the protection
of our wilderness lands.
It's been said that
we don't inherit the Earth
from our ancestors,
we borrow it
from our children.
And when our children look back
on this time and this place
they will be grateful.
If we fail to reduce the
emission of greenhouse gases,
deadly heat waves and droughts
will become more frequent,
coastal areas will flood and
economies will be disrupted.
That is going to happen,
unless we act.
And here we have
a serious problem:
America is addicted to oil.
I am 87 years old.
I was a child
during the Depression.
The Great Depression
had an enormous influence
on the lives of all of us
that experienced it.
I lived in the country;
I'm a country boy.
Small town kid.
We didn't have electricity.
We learned to live simply
and get our sustenance
from the Earth.
I didn't own a car
until I was 27.
I grew up with conservation
because it was important
for our lives.
Then after the war,
everybody thought
they ought to have a chance
to be rich.
There was an enormous
economic boom
going on after the war.
There was this
"progress is our most
important product"
feeling to the 1950s.
And I was one of many
relatively spoiled
children of that...
compared to the people who
grew up in the Depression.
When I was a kid growing up
in Rockford, Illinois,
I was reading Outdoor Life
and I took
the Conservation Pledge.
"I give my pledge as an American
to save and faithfully to defend
"from waste the natural
resources of my country--
its soil and minerals, its
forests, waters and wildlife."
That's me at age ten
or something like that.
I got rubber stamps that I put
on all of my books
that said that.
And I guess like a lot
of that generation,
I saw pieces of that childhood
destroyed in one way or another
you couldn't go back to.
Then you get that sense
of angst of,
well, how much of this process
of loss is going to go on?
I grew up in a beautiful
Midwest town.
You drove around
and it was a green,
peaceful, relatively
intact system.
I really never was confronted
with issues of scarcity,
man's impact on the planet.
These things just
didn't come up for me.
In those days,
environmental problems
didn't really impress
themselves on you.
It wasn't clear that we had
any very serious problems.
Americans want to believe
in a future that is expansive.
That's better than the past.
When I was a kid, the year 2000
was 40 years in the future.
And the sort of thing
that the futurists
were all laying out
was almost unimaginable.
That never seemed to me to be
a particularly
interesting way to live.
I always thought
and kind of held a mental model,
that somehow we would
all find a way to live
in something more like
a New England village.
We would know our neighbors.
We would have genuine say
in decisions that were made
that would impact our lives.
This always seemed to me
a far superior future.
I voted for the
Interstate Highway program,
which I see now
as a great mistake.
I was a freshman Congressman;
you went along for the ride.
The vision we had
was super-abundance.
There was no discussion
of how much oil we had.
There was just an assumption
that it would always be there
and they would always
be finding more oil,
and oil would be cheap.
So, the automobile culture
that we adopted
began to gain strength.
Let the trains
and public transportation go.
That's what we did
in most parts of the country.
This was the future.
The individual.
The automobile.
California has been the heart
of much of the environmental
leadership in America.
Every day we see
that we grew up
with our youth
that we treasured
that is lost.
Southern California
was a beautiful place--
small towns, orange groves,
mustard fields, and then,
the metropolis of Los Angeles.
We had the finest transportation
system in the world--
electric trains.
You could go anywhere--
San Bernardino to Santa Monica.
My dad commuted to work
from South Pasadena
every day of his life.
We'd had steady development
since the end of World War ll
in 1945,
and by 1950,
when I was up at Stanford,
they had to close down
high school baseball games
because the air had grown
so smoggy
as a result of the automobiles
and the vanishing
of the great electric trains.
What happened to Los Angeles
in my lifetime
was that it became
one huge suburb.
Ecology means
the study of organisms
in combination
with their environments.
We take groups of organisms,
put them in an environment,
and try and understand
what's happening.
My original interest
in human population developed
when I was an undergraduate
at Penn in the '50s.
As a biologist,
the thing that I saw first was
when I was in high school,
they were doing so much building
of subdivisions
for more and more people
in New Jersey
and spraying so much DDT around
that the butterflies
I was interested in studying
were disappearing.
That tied very directly
to population,
as do almost all of our other
environmental problems.
I was born
into a papermaking family,
so my youth was surrounded
by the felling of trees
and by paper mills
that produced vast quantities
of uncontrolled sulfur dioxide
and hydrogen sulfide.
I think I probably have a bit
of diminished lung capacity
that grew out
of breathing all of that acid
for all of those years.
There's probably some
Freudian rebellion
against my father
that was part of it.
So I was intensely aware
that there were these
destructive things going on
to the land around me.
But I guess as I was growing up,
it wasn't something
that I thought of
as... as a question.
I mean, this was just progress.
There is something
that's much more insidious
with things
that are not so visible
and nevertheless
have dramatic impacts.
Like nuclear fallout
from atmospheric nuclear tests.
When I was born,
Strontium-90 didn't exist.
By the time I was a teenager,
every living creature
on the planet had Strontium-90
in its bones or its shells.
That's a fairly
profound change...
...and we'd done it.
It felt to me
like the preciousness of life
was imperiled.
I may have understood
that my way of life, you know,
the sort of middle class
American way of life,
was imperiled.
I couldn't have
articulated it then
'cause I didn't understand
all the connections.
Bear in mind that,
as a child, I was,
you know, trained
to hide under my desk
in the event
of a nuclear explosion.
Living with the possibility
of the bomb
is foundational to this idea
that human extinction has been
put within human grasp.
The mushroom cloud
was the icon of my generation.
That image was
in every classroom
I went to as a child.
It was the epitome
of human creation and creativity
to have developed this
incredibly destructive thing.
And then, of course, there was
the light side of the shadow.
You know, there was this idea
that was out there
that the atom was going to be
the salvation of humanity.
This was the first generation
that had acquired
the power
of a geophysical force
that could cause brand-new
radioactive substances
to be disseminated
throughout the entire planet.
That could drive, not just a few
species as we'd always done,
but now literally thousands
of species into extinction.
That could change the climate.
We've been on this planet
for several hundred thousands
of years,
and during most of that time,
anybody who looked far
into the future
didn't have much survival value.
I mean, if you're
in the midst of a battle
with a mammoth or something,
you don't sit there and say,
"Well, let's think
about three years from now."
You-You run.
And so,
for a long period of time,
the advantage went to those
who focused
on the immediate situation.
And I think,
as a consequence of that,
now that we are faced
with issues
which will really unfold
over centuries,
we're genetically
and institutionally
ill-adapted for it.
The concept
that the planet is very fragile
really came out
of Rachel Carson's book.
Silent Spring sounded the alarm
that we were destroying
the life support system
of the planet.
The book was a sensation.
It was printed
in over 30 languages.
Rachel Carson
has to get the main credit
for the modern
environmental movement
because she was the first one
to point out one of the really
serious environmental problems
that was the overuse
of pesticides.
It was the right moment,
the right book
and the right personality.
Although the pesticide industry
tried to demonize her,
Rachel Carson
didn't demonize easily.
Unless we do bring these
chemicals under better control,
we are certainly headed
for disaster.
The balance of nature is built
of a series
of interrelationships
between living things,
and between living things
and their environment.
You can't just step in
with some brute force
and change one thing
without changing many others.
Now this doesn't mean,
of course,
that we must never interfere,
that we must not attempt
to tilt that balance of nature
in our favor,
but when we do make
this attempt,
we must know what we're doing.
We must know the consequences.
There was an ugly backlash
after the book came out.
The chemical industries were
calling her a hysterical woman
that didn't know
what she was talking about.
The major claims
in Ms. Rachel Carson's book
Silent Spring
are gross distortions
of the actual facts,
completely unsupported
by scientific
experimental evidence,
and general practical experience
in the field.
Ms. Carson maintains
that the balance of nature
is a major force
in the survival of man,
whereas the modern chemist,
the modern biologist,
the modern scientist
believes that man
is steadily controlling nature.
Something that
we all thought of prior to her
as better living through
chemistry in a sense--
you're pouring this
stuff on your crops
and you're producing more crops
and it really was not
something that you thought,
"My goodness,
people are intentionally
poisoning the environment."
And that those poisons
might not be as selective
as they're telling us.
Rachel Carson was
incredibly scrupulous
in the creation
of Silent Spring.
She understood that we are
organisms as much as the birds
whose songs were being silenced.
She wrote not only
a tremendously informative book,
but, uh, an incredibly
moving book,
and she did it while
she was suffering from cancer.
There was a controversy
that raged
really until her death
it was still going on,
and that was kind of sad
because, uh, she
was a shy person.
She was not a crusader.
She was a scientist.
There appears to be growing
concern among scientists
as to the possibility
of dangerous,
long-range side effects
from the widespread use
of DDT and other pesticides.
President Kennedy's
science advisory group
reported that Rachel Carson's
method of research
was sound and her findings
and conclusions
were generally correct.
President Kennedy
backed Rachel Carson.
I think, particularly,
of course since Ms. Carson's book...
And that put the chemical
industry on the defensive.
I truly believe that we,
in this generation,
must come to terms with nature.
And I think we are challenged
as mankind has never
been challenged before
to prove our maturity
and our mastery,
not of nature, but of ourselves.
A really profound difficulty
that we confront,
particularly in the West,
is the degree to which people
came to equate the
accumulation of material goods
with success and happiness.
It hasn't always been like that.
The things we have to do
to accumulate more goods
tends to deteriorate the
quality of the social system.
So, as we get less
and less satisfaction
from the social
side of our lives,
we actually tend to put
more and more emphasis
on the accumulation
of material goods.
When I was 19,
I took off and hitchhiked
around the world
for a few years.
I was just profoundly depressed
by the, the many ways
that America was falling short
of the American dream
that I had been taught
in my younger years.
In January of 1965,
I find myself in Namibia
in the middle of a desert.
I was hungry; I was tired,
I had been alone
for a couple of years,
and had, in essence,
sort of a vision.
The things that came together
in my mind at that point
were the human problems
we were facing
and the principals of ecology
that guided literally
everything on Earth.
Ecology is in
some large measure,
the study of how populations
obtain and use energy
Energy from the sun,
through their food supplies.
And because humans
had divorced themselves
in some large measure
from the inflow of solar energy
by tapping into
fossil energy resources,
we'd been able to, seemingly,
for a period of time--
for a century or so--
violate some of these basic
principals of ecology.
And that, by and large,
they'd led us
into some really
unfortunate consequences.
The idea here is:
what do you really do to try
to bring the carbon cycle
back into balance?
It occurred to me that
we need to begin to apply
the principals of ecology
to the way we build our cities,
to the way that we manage
our agricultural system,
to the way that we make
industrial processes.
I was literally awake all night
excited with this thing,
and got up the next morning,
knowing what I was going to do.
I was going to come back
to the United States,
I was going to become
engaged in political activity
and I was going to be trying
to see if I could somehow
insert this insight
into the body politic.
There were no environmental laws
when I became
Secretary of Interior.
The rivers of this country,
essentially were sewers.
There was a smog episode
in New York City
that killed a large number
of people.
Air pollution
that killed people.
We made, during the 1960's,
the first list
of endangered species
and what was at the top
of the list?
The American Bald Eagle,
our national symbol.
Like lots of others
in my generation,
I thought that all of beauty
was going to be destroyed.
I thought that cheesy suburbs
would overrun
the fields and the hills.
It was a sense that we were
finalizing our alienation
from nature
and poisoning the planet.
And I didn't want to live
in a world like that.
When I was growing up,
progress was defined
by growth
and gross national product.
That you could see
the gross national product
grow ever higher at the
same time that there was
this growing recognition
that life was,
in some very important ways,
getting worse as we progressed.
Our air and water were polluted.
Our most beautiful natural
places were being destroyed.
Cities were becoming
increasingly unlivable.
Food was becoming
increasingly processed
to the point where it was
neither nutritious nor
enjoyable and on and on.
All of which contributed
to this sense of progress,
but at the same time, people
had a mounting discontent.
That, in some sense, was one
of the great underlying engines
of launching the
environmental movement.
The environmental movement
that grew out
of Rachel Carson's book
was built on the foundation
of the conservation movement.
There were big issues like
preserving the Everglades
and not putting
an airport there.
And the National
Wildlife Federation
was right
in the forefront of this.
There was a big proposal
for dams in the Grand Canyon.
Can you imagine damming
the Grand Canyon?
This was raised into
a big national issue,
particularly by the Sierra Club.
And I was persuaded,
as Secretary of the Interior,
that the project
should be abandoned.
The environmental movement
the conservation movement.
It enlarged it beyond concern
for the management
of United States resources
to the future
of the planet itself.
What really alarmed me
about the state
of the planet's ecology
was a book by Paul Ehrlich
on overpopulation.
It just made perfect sense to me
that-that human overpopulation
was driving
the degradation
of the quality of life.
When I was born, there were
2 billion people on the planet.
When I wrote
The Population Bomb in 1968,
there were 3 and a half billion
people on the planet.
That number has
now almost doubled.
We're over 6.5 billion.
And people say,
"Well, population growth
is slowing down,
we're only going to add
if we're lucky another
2 and a half billion people."
Well, 2 and a half billion
people is more
than there were on the entire
planet when I was born.
The population situation is bad
beyond what any demographer
even dreamed of 25 years ago.
What about the resource
situation in the world?
The most important resource to
all of us, of course, is food.
When Paul Ehrlich's book
The Population Bomb came out
in... late '60s,
he was instantly famous.
He was instantly controversial.
Some time in the next 15 years
the end will come,
and by the end I mean
an utter breakdown
of the capacity of the planet
to support humanity.
I'd been a student of-of
Paul Ehrlich's at Stanford.
I trusted him and liked him.
I bought it completely.
It was a global perspective
which was interesting
because many of the things that
environmentalists were doing
up to then were not so global.
You can be absolutely sure
that we have had it.
Everybody who's looked into
the overall population resource
environment picture comes up
with the same kind of estimate
of what would be required if
we're to have a 50/50 chance
of getting through
the next couple of decades
with civilization intact.
He grabbed
the thorniest thistle of all,
which is us, you know--
human reproduction.
I was totally galvanized.
And I went to my dorm room
and just sort of blasted out
a draft of this speech
to deliver at commencement,
titled "The Future
Is a Cruel Hoax."
It was pretty drastic,
uh, rhetoric.
I said, you know,
mankind's moved across
the face of the Earth
like a great unthinking,
unfeeling cancer.
And that the most humane
thing for me to do
would be to have
no children at all.
I was a media figure overnight.
It was personal.
I said I'm not going
to have a child.
This is very serious.
Um, and...
and I was a woman saying it.
All right.
I-I went around and gave
80 speeches in a year.
If every student says,
"I'm not going to have
more than two children,"
then within five years,
the population growth curve
will begin to drop.
So, the future is in our hands
in a very, very real sense...
The pill had just recently
become available,
so this is something I can do
as an act of conscience.
We had a lot of illusions
about Earth.
One of them was that
it was basically flat
and infinite with no finitude
to our resources.
And we had very
stereotyped ideas
of what the Earth looked like
from space.
If you look at all the images,
that people made before
we had the photographs,
almost none of them have clouds.
And weather and climate.
There is such a thing as icons.
And icons help frame
people's thinking.
My sense was that a photograph
of Earth from space
would be different
in every possible way
from a painting of the Earth
from space.
In, uh, 1966, I took some LSD
on a rooftop in San Francisco.
I noticed that the buildings
of downtown
were not parallel
to one another.
It was as if you were looking
with a fish-eye lens.
They had this, uh, slightly
divergent quality to them.
And so, basically,
I'm mentally elevating myself
higher and higher and higher
until the horizon closes
around me in a circle.
What I am looking at is
the surface of a sphere.
I was just trying to call forth
that reality.
And what I thought was,
you know,
taking my 100 mikes
of LSD on a rooftop,
"I know, the--
I'll just make a button."
And I come up with a phrasing
that I like,
"Why haven't we seen
a photograph
of the whole Earth yet?"
I'll distribute the button
through the world
and everybody will understand
we need to see a photograph
of the whole Earth
and when we do,
everything will be different.
So I printed up a bunch
of these buttons
and I went around
to various universities
and sold the buttons
for 25 cents a piece.
I sent them to Buckminster
Fuller and Marshall McLuhan,
and all those senators and their
secretaries that I could find.
I sent them to various
professionals at NASA,
and politburo members in Russia.
I just, you know, floated
this stuff out there
to see what would happen.
At that time,
you know, in the late '60s,
the Whole Earth
Catalogue became--
kind of the Sears catalogue
of the back-to-the-land
generation with this...
intelligence behind it
of Stewart's.
Stewart's motto was:
"We are as gods
and we might as well
get good at it."
The Whole Earth Catalogue had, uh,
basically appropriate technology
as our contribution.
Photovoltaic-- things that
you could put on your roof
that you would get
12-volt power out of.
that was deemed appropriate
Putting something in a creek
that would pump water
was appropriate technology.
Geodesic domes and-and
solar equipment.
Organic gardening in that sense
was appropriate technology.
People were going back
to the land, back to basics,
reinvent civilization,
get it right his time.
And, uh, the sense was that one
was going to blend with nature.
The idea of
going back to the land is
to become more capable of
providing your own subsistence
and to reduce your impact
and your complicity
in long chains of supply.
It was saying,
our way of life has to change.
And I loved all that,
because it was radical.
By and large, the people
who were starting rural communes,
people who were going
"back to the land,"
in the 1960s
and on into the '70s,
were pretty much liberal,
educated college students.
The navet...
...that was carted
from college campuses out
to these places in the bush
was breathtaking.
People tried to garden,
that they could just
put seeds in the ground.
Where we have
a nobody's-in-charge,
uh, kind of social
economic environment,
and that would crash and burn.
The women would leave,
and the men would leave
soon after.
All of us who went out
and tried to live together
in a totally egalitarian-mode
got over it,
because we had our noses rubbed
in our fondest fantasies.
And, you know, it only took us
a couple of years,
and we did no great harm
in the process.
It was tempting to try
to throw out everything
and start over.
I thought about that and tried
various efforts at it.
Uh, lived on a commune
and thought about simply
retreating back to the hills.
Spent some time
in the mountains of Virginia
way up on a mountaintop.
None of that seemed
to be an answer.
The world around us
is pretty much
the world we're going to have.
We're either going
to work with that,
or we're going to lose.
One peculiarity of
the counterculture in the '60s
was that it was inherently
really anti-technology.
I think it thought
technology came from government,
it came from corporations,
and we're going back to basics.
We don't need technology.
Except our hi-fis, of course.
And our drugs.
And those could be as...
You know, the more technically
refined those were, the better.
But by and large, technology
was supposed to be bad.
So, much of the counterculture
of the space program.
Those military guys
with crew cuts.
It was the government
wasting money.
Let's take care of things here
on Earth before we leave it.
All of this kind of rhetoric was
out there, except for one guy,
Jacques Cousteau,
the oceans guy.
He had a better sense
of the sphere-icity of the Earth
probably than any other
surface-bound person at that time.
What he knew was
that the oceans--
two-thirds, three-quarters
of the planet--
you could not monitor,
and yet, terrible things
were happening to it.
So his sense was that you had
to have satellite imagery
and people looking down
on the Earth from outside
in order to protect the oceans.
He just said,
we've got to get out there.
We totally identified with it.
The whole world identified
with it,
and the whole world
was proud of it.
Once you've got pride--
I learned this in the army--
a whole bunch of things
that seemed impossible start
to seem not only possible,
but let's get on with it.
There was a sense
of engineering accomplishment,
of being able to set
a damn-near impossible goal,
and then just haul off
and-and do it.
As an astronaut, I was
really emotionally invested
in what was happening
with the planet.
Being who I was,
and not just blasting my little
pink body up into space,
but being able to look back
with my human eyes
and my brain and my heart
and see this planet below me.
To me, you know,
technology has, clearly,
both good sides and bad sides.
It's how one uses it.
Sure looks like it.
Apollo 9 was the first
flight that flew the lunar module,
and I was the first
lunar module pilot.
And I also went outside
the lunar module,
and it would be the first time
that a human being
went outside a spacecraft
without an umbilical.
Proceeding on out.
Dave's in the command module,
hanging out the hatch
with a movie camera,
when all of a sudden, he says,
"Um, hey, hold on.
My camera just jammed."
'Cause it ripped out
on a straight line.
So, Jim says, "Well,
"I'll give you five minutes.
Rusty, just stay right there."
I'm just floating there,
almost as if I'm naked in space.
And all-all this stuff starts
coming into my mind.
I'm here because life
has evolved on this planet.
We've developed brains which
enable us to invent machines.
In combination
with those machines,
we're able
to extend our environment,
and here I am on the frontier
of this evolutionary process.
What am I?
I'm a representative of life
moving out into the universe.
So the idea of Mother Earth--
that phrase has real meaning.
From the outside,
you can look back.
The child now sees its mother.
We human beings,
we, this life form
on this incredible planet,
just coated with life--
where are we going?
The photographs
of the Earth from space
were a different kind of mirror
than we had ever
looked in before.
It flips you from the world
that we're in
to a planet that we're on.
The image, I think,
was maybe the most reproduced
image in American history.
We suddenly realized that the
Earth was a very small thing.
Much as if you live
on an island,
you are much more acutely aware
of the limitations
on your resources
and on your ability to pollute.
That photograph of the Earth
in this vast sea of space--
that did pretty much
the same thing
for the whole planet.
If the people really understood
that in the lifetime
of their children
they're going to have destroyed
the quality of the air
and the water
all over the world,
and, uh, perhaps made the globe
unlivable in a half century,
they'd do something about it.
But this is not well understood.
Senator Gaylord Nelson
was one of my very best friends.
He was a great governor
of Wisconsin,
and he was a great
He was the one that said,
"Well, why not have teach-ins
about the environment
all over the country?"
And this is what became
the first Earth Day in 1970.
Gaylord cared passionately
about conservation issues
throughout his entire career. efficient, clean, cheap,
mass transportation,
which is what this country
must come to.
He had decided to set up
a steering committee
and actually make this
begin to happen.
He'd enlisted already
Pete McCloskey,
a Republican congressman
from California,
who was an ardent
to co-chair it with him.
The preservation of the environment
is going to have to be
a very top item.
For that reason, I, uh--
am just delighted to support it.
The Republican party
in my lifetime
had been an environmental party,
but, man, by 1970, it was
hard to find Republicans
that put the environment
in their top five
list of priorities.
But Gaylord, he wanted it
to be bipartisan.
So, he said, "Pete,
would you be co-chairman?"
"Would I be co-chairman?"
It was-- it meant everything
that I wanted to do
in the world.
So, I think it was in
December-January of 1970,
we hired Denis Hayes
to be the director.
And Denis comes to Washington
with about 20 or 30 kids
that are about 18 to 22
at the oldest.
And they send out newsletters
all over the country
to every student body president,
10,000 high schools,
a couple of thousand colleges.
"Would you like to have
an Earth Day on April 22?"
What we were
trying to do was to create
a brand-new public consciousness
that would cause the rules
of the game to change.
It was somewhat ironic for
something called Earth Day
to be entirely focused
on the United States.
But remember, we had
virtually no money.
We had incredible aspirations,
but there was no World Wide Web.
There was no internet.
There were no blogs.
There was no e-mail.
There was no instant messaging.
There was none of the kind
of web activism
that is possible today.
The newsletters that were sent
to people across the country
were all printed for us for free
by the United Autoworkers.
The United Autoworkers
were the largest,
single contributors financially,
and otherwise to Earth Day.
Ever notice that
even on a clear day in New York,
there's a dark cloud
hanging over your head?
Soot and carbon.
Ever take a good look
at the Hudson River?
How'd you like to drink it?
Half the sun in New York
is cut out
by the carbon from cars.
Pollution comes right through
your air conditioner,
and you inhale more
than a pack a day,
even if you don't smoke.
And there are already more rats
in New York than people.
By 1980, you're probably
going to need a gasmask
and a flashlight
to get to the office.
There won't be any birds
or bees or trees.
Unless we stop
what we're doing,
we're going to kill ourselves.
April 22 is Earth Day.
It can be the beginning
of the end of pollution
or the beginning of the end.
Mr. McCloskey, isn't this
just really a mask,
to cover up the major
problems of Vietnam
and Civil Rights
in this country?
Well, won't this in fact deflect
people from Vietnam as a cause?
Why an environmental teach-in?
Now, what's the point in putting
more money down the drain
in this kind of stuff?
That might involve cutting back
on things like air-conditioning?
Are you going to get
liberal support for this?
How will you deal, in effect,
with the women's liberation
Is there any concern in your mind
that this might just be a-a fad?
There are practically
no black people involved.
Okay, we are out of time.
Thank you very much gentleman
for being here with us today
on Face the Nation.
By and large,
we created a juggernaut
that-that everybody
was willing to embrace,
at least stylistically
and superficially.
Though a great many of them
did not begin to understand
the depth of the changes
that we were seeking.
So, we were not
particularly shocked
by the fact that, in his 1970
State of the Union speech,
Nixon brought up
environmental issues.
Restoring nature to its
natural state is a cause
beyond party
and beyond factions.
It has become a common cause of
all the people of this country.
It is a cause of particular
concern to young Americans,
because they, more than we,
will reap the grim consequences
of our failure to act
on programs,
which are needed now if we are
going to prevent disaster later.
I know from
some of his aides I talked to,
there was a big argument,
and they said, "Look,
this is a powerful movement
"and it's going
to get more powerful.
"There is an Earth Day coming up
in a few weeks.
Proclaim that you want the 1970s
to be the environmental decade."
Nixon did it!
The Earth Day offices
were wiretapped by the FBI.
And interestingly, also
by military intelligence.
Lord knows what they thought
we were doing.
Do you consider yourselves
Is this a revolutionary
What are you
talking about?
A new, uh... a new
form of government?
Uh, uh, a new
What are you talking about?
What are your priorities?
It was wild and exciting
and out of control.
And the sort of thing
that lets you know
that you've really got
something big happening.
The White House invited the
national organizers of Earth Day
to drop by for a chat.
They refused.
Christopher DeMuth,
the President's
23-year-old assistant
for environmental affairs,
blames Denis Hayes the National
Coordinator of Earth Day.
Saying that Hayes was
more interested
in an anti-Nixon publicity
stance than in ensuring
that the observance was
truly nonpartisan.
At the time
that it all happened,
I think Nixon,
who by all accounts
did not have
an environmental nerve ending
anywhere in his body, viewed
this as a political chess move.
See, that's-- we'll try
to play all cameras.
I'll play a little bit,
uh, moving around here
as we go along in case
you'll want to use it.
I have sent
to the Congress today
a sweeping set of proposals
to clean up
our nation's air and water.
This is the most far-reaching
and comprehensive message
on conservation and restoration
of our natural resources
ever submitted to the Congress
by a President
of the United States.
We are taking these actions, not
in some distant future, but now,
because we know
that it is now or never.
I began Earth Day
with a sunrise ceremony
in Washington D.C.
Then I flew up to New York.
Mayor Lindsay
had shut down 5th Avenue,
and we basically filled it
all up.
The fact that we managed
to have our largest event
in what was then the center
of all media coverage
was advantageous.
Earth Day demonstrations began
in practically every city
and town
in the United States
this morning.
The first massive
nationwide protest
against the pollution
of the environment.
In Washington, there was
an awesome Earth Day warning
from a government scientist.
Dr. J. Murray Mitchell said
pollution and over-pollution,
unless checked,
could so warm the Earth
in 200 years
as to create
a greenhouse effect,
melting the arctic ice cap
and flooding vast areas
of the world.
Nationally, Earth Day was
the largest demonstration ever
in American history.
Some events had
half a million people in them.
And we had an estimated
20 million across the country.
Some quarters
saw more than coincidence
in the fact that Earth Day
on the 100th anniversary
of the birth of Lenin,
the father of Soviet communism.
The Comptroller General
of Georgia, James Bentley,
sent out some $1,600 worth
of telegrams
warning that Earth Day
might be a communist plot.
There were certainly people
who had their pet causes.
Some pounded vehicles apart
with sledgehammers
as a protest against
the internal combustion engine.
Others wore gas masks
to protest air pollution.
But also, there was
an almost celebratory thing,
as though suddenly,
we were awakening
to a new set of opportunities.
They are talking about
emission control devices on automobiles
while we are talking
about bans on automobiles.
We are challenging the ethics
of a society,
that with only six percent
of the world's population,
accounts for more than half
of its utilization of resources.
Our country is stealing from the
poorer countries of the world
and from generations
as yet unborn.
To me, Earth Day
was life changing.
There were, around the country,
millions of people
engaging in some act
of caring for the Earth.
I realized that there was
a massive group of people
who cared very deeply
about the Earth,
and, if organized, could be
a viable political movement.
At that point, I ceased
to be an anti-war activist
and became an environmentalist.
Save our Earth! Save our Earth!
Save our Earth!
Save our Earth!
Save our Earth! Save our Earth!
I've-I've been at three
of these gatherings today,
and let me say this to you.
That you can't stand
in front of a group like this
without feeling the power
which can flow from it.
And so what we must do
is to make every day
Earth Day.
It was from Washington
that 25-year-old Denis Hayes
started to organize
this nationwide thing,
and it is here
he has returned tonight
to say that this thing
is now a movement,
and, like Vietnam,
an anti-establishment movement.
We are systematically
destroying our land,
our streams and our seas.
We foul our air...
It was a huge,
high-adrenaline effort
that, in the end,
genuinely changed things.
Before there were people
that opposed freeways,
there were people
that opposed clear-cutting,
or people worried
about pesticides.
They didn't think of themselves
as having anything in common.
After Earth Day,
they were all part
of an environmental movement.
Some people have
a deep, abiding respect
for the natural beauty
that was once this country...
...and some people don't.
People start pollution.
People can stop it.
Immediately after Earth Day,
we chose to get involved
in something
that we really hadn't
paid any attention to
before Earth Day-- organized
formal politics, elections.
We came up with a campaign
called The Dirty Dozen
that targeted 12 members
of Congress
with terrible
environmental records.
The Dirty Dozen are:
E. Ross Adair of Indiana,
William Ayres of Ohio,
William Cowger of Kentucky,
David Dennis of Indiana,
George Fallon of Maryland,
John Kyl of Iowa,
Earl Landgrebe of Indiana,
Odin Langden of Minnesota,
Byron Rogers of Colorado,
Henry Schadeberg of Wisconsin,
Lawrence Winn of Kansas
and Roger Zion of Indiana.
We beat seven of the 12 members
of The Dirty Dozen,
including the Chairman
of the Public Works Committee,
a guy named George Fallon
out of Baltimore,
who was funding all kinds
of environmental monsters.
People were saying,
"You took out George Fallon?!"
I mean, he was clearly
one of the three or four
most powerful members
of Congress.
And when Congress
reconvened in January,
everybody said,
"I'm now an environmentalist."
I mean,
there was a force out there
that had taken out
seven incumbents.
We propose the establishment
of a joint House-Senate
committee on the environment
to expand
the congressional capacity
to deal with environmental...
And the frightening variety
of hazards
and environmental offenses
over which we have had little,
up to this time...
little in the way of control.
President Nixon sent this report
to Congress today,
an assessment of the nation's
environmental problems
and ideas on how to solve them.
He sounded the familiar warning
of ecological disaster,
but counseled against
panic or hysteria.
In the next four years,
'71 through '74,
we-we passed Clean Water,
Clean Air, Endangered Species,
Estuarine Protection,
Coastal Zone Protection,
Marine Mammal Protection,
and a lot of that went through
my little subcommittee.
I think President Nixon
was looking forward
to the next election.
Well, was he going to veto this
Clean Air, Clean Water bill?
He signed it with a flourish.
And then proposed the creation
of what is now,
still, the Environmental
Protection Agency,
to enforce these pollution laws.
We got environmental
impact statements.
You had to look at the downside,
as well as the upside,
of any technological project.
That was revolutionary,
because it gave people the power
to challenge unlimited
technological growth.
Nixon deserves credit
for what he did.
And I'm not sure
he fully understood it,
but he got behind it.
In the '70s,
in the United States,
we did clean up
quite a few lakes,
and we did reduce
the air pollution
in quite a few cities,
but there was essentially
no progress
on the global problems.
Things like climate change,
the depletion
of the marine fisheries,
the ocean fisheries,
population growth, and so forth.
There has always been the notion
that we will be able to sustain
our current trajectory
in living standards and material
consumption and so forth.
And moreover,
that all of the poor people
of the world
are going to be able
to catch up with us.
The entire discipline
of economics,
is based on the assumption
that output is going
to continue to grow,
living standards are going
to continue to grow,
and so forth.
The economy can't keep
growing forever.
The idea that somehow
the gross domestic product
of the United States
should double
in the next 50 or 100 years
or something is just nutty.
Economists have clearly shown
that once you have
your basic needs fulfilled,
uh, that further economic growth
and consumption doesn't supply
any more satisfaction.
Americans aren't
any happier today
or more satisfied
than they were in 1950,
despite the growth
we've had in our economy.
Most of us don't have
an experience of growth
the way
it's impacting the planet,
because you get up every morning
and look around,
and it seems to be pretty much
the same as it was yesterday.
Our species just naturally
tends to assume
that change happens,
more or less, linearly.
One, two, three, four,
five, six-- like that.
But in fact, the problems
that are causing
environmental deterioration
arise out of exponential growth,
which is where, instead of going
up by a constant amount
over some time period,
it goes up by a percentage
over some time period.
I've tried to illustrate
what this means
with a very simple example.
I bring out a tablecloth.
I show it to everybody.
I fold it four times.
So I am doubling the thickness
of the tablecloth four times.
And I let everybody see it,
and I say,
"Suppose that that is
half an inch thick,
"not much.
"If I were to fold it
another 15, 16 times,
how thick would it be?"
Now I can't, actually,
but suppose I could do that.
When you keep doubling
the tablecloth,
of course it is growing
and after 21 folds,
it'll be about a mile thick.
If I double it
another five or six times,
it extends out
past the edge of space.
Continuing that process,
rather quickly, it gets you
amazingly big numbers.
With just 39 folds, it's already
shooting past the moon.
That's how quickly
you get to very large numbers
when a process grows
Our book, Limits to Growth,
was the first concrete effort,
using a computer,
to look at trends
that unfold over decades,
even a century.
We were trying
to understand long-term
physical demands
on the planet.
And in the '70s,
we were thinking
that probably in the period
2010 to 2030 was when
the planet would start
to encounter limits.
And that when you
hit the limits,
the tendency is
to overshoot them and collapse,
not to even out
in a nice, orderly fashion.
The book was officially released
in March of 1972
and the inaugural event
was a press conference
in Washington, DC.
I am pleased to have
this opportunity...
The book was rather quickly
translated into 35 languages
and sold millions.
It was a phenomenon.
Here is what
Dr. Meadows' computer shows:
since the year 1900,
the Earth's resources,
there at the top of the chart,
have been steadily used up
as population,
food consumption,
and production of goods
have soared.
Ahead of us,
sometime after the year 2000,
this computer study
foresees calamity.
Resources drop more steeply,
and food and production
follow suit.
Population continues to expand
for perhaps one more generation,
then collapses calamitously
as depravation takes hold.
I remember the first time I saw
that NASA picture of Earth
taken over the moon.
That picture somehow
had the capacity
to just wrench your mind around
so you thought about things
in a different way.
Our curves did that
for a lot of people.
For the first time,
they could start to see
the future consequences
of what they were doing now,
and for many people
that was really shocking.
I went to the first presentation.
I thought it was
potent and powerful.
The thesis that growth
had to be limited
to preserve the quality
of the environment,
the quality of life,
it's a thesis, a theme,
that I still agree with today.
There are limits to growth
and we're bumping
against them right now.
Civilizations have
crashed repeatedly in the past.
the classic Maya,
Greeks civilization and so on.
The thing that's so scary today
is that we have,
for the first time,
a global civilization
that is doing what
many of those other ones did:
building a huge population
and abusing its environment
without any thought
to the consequences.
There can be no doubt
what one subject has aroused
most controversy
amongst scientists
during the past 12 months.
I mean, of course,
the prospect
of doom for mankind
because of pollution,
overuse of resources.
What is being called
the "eco-crisis."
Well, I think that
the conclusions of this study
are completely wrong.
If you check...
There were various efforts
to discredit Limits to Growth
and to discredit
Paul Ehrlich's work.
And, indeed,
much of what they said
could come to pass
has not come to pass.
Well, does that mean
they're wrong?
No, what it means is
all we've done is push off
these challenges
that they very rightly
Would you welcome
Dr. Paul Ehrlich?
Nice to see you again.
It's nice to be
back as always.
You know, you, uh,
you've been on our show
a half a dozen times
or so, and I remember
the first time you
were on the show,
we talked about
The Population Bomb.
And we talked about
the geometric progression
of the number of people that are
accruing to this planet every day.
And I remember at that
time that you said,
and many other population biologists
and sociologists said,
that the time is going to come
when people are going
to have a rude awakening
around the world and especially
in the United States
where they've been used
to so much affluence.
Or we're going to run out
or there is going to be...
It is going to come to a head
sooner or later,
because the resources
of the world are not finite.
And all of a sudden now,
people for, I think,
one of the first times
in history in this country,
really realize
that it's happening.
All right! There it is.
No more gas.
-Let's go!
-No gas?
Let's go. I'm sorry.
No more gas.
3,000 gallons
lasted about two hours.
As America has grown
and prospered
in recent years,
our energy demands
have begun to exceed
available supplies.
Unfortunately, our expectations
for this winter
have now been sharply altered
by the recent conflict
in the Middle East.
Because of that war,
most of the Middle Eastern
oil producers
have reduced overall production
and cut off their shipments
of oil to the United States.
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia
announced an embargo of oil
to the United States,
which was quickly then embraced
by the other Arab members
of OPEC, and so it became
the quote-unquote
"Arab oil embargo."
Oil at that point cost
four dollars a barrel.
It's hard to remember that
America was really built on oil
that cost between two and four
dollars a barrel.
The price rapidly shot up,
getting up
over $16 a barrel--
a 400% increase.
The price of gasoline quadrupled
within just two months.
There was a degree
of desperation
because of shortages
of supplies.
People couldn't get gasoline.
Gas lines would stretch on
for half a mile sometimes.
We were driving these big cars,
absolutely reliant upon them
and you couldn't find gasoline.
So they started rationing.
I can't see the United States
running out of anything,
but maybe that's, uh, I'm, uh,
prejudiced that way.
I think the United States
should be able to have
plenty of anything.
The United States
recognized for the first time
that our standard of living
could be held hostage
by people halfways
around the world.
With good policy,
this could have been
the initiation of a transition
to a... to a renewable society.
That in itself
was not a new concept.
In the early 1950s,
a government commission
called the Paley Commission
urged a transition
as rapidly as possible
to renewable energy,
to solar energy,
to energy efficiency
as a matter
of national security.
Of course we ignored them.
The United States of America,
as the greatest industrial power
in the world, with seven percent
of the world's people,
and using 30%
of the world's energy,
shouldn't have to depend
on any other country
for energy that provides
our jobs
and our transportations
and our light and our heat.
We can become self-sufficient.
This is a great project,
and I am going to push it.
Well, thank you very much,
I guess that's the end.
I remember when Nixon stood up
and announced
Project Independence.
Every president
after him announced
some sort of energy
independent program.
And, of course, they all had
more or less the same result.
But these were...
These were peripheral responses.
They didn't get
to the heart of it.
And, uh, and never did.
The energy market at that time
was a market that was
a combination
of guaranteed monopolies,
cartels, and insurance
and price subsidies
favoring the largest,
the most powerful,
the most wealthy,
and I will say
the most ruthless
corporations in America.
And they had just
a stranglehold on Congress.
Electric utilities
were the largest monopolists
in the country.
There was only
one way to buy power.
So, historically, you have
one set of hugely
powerful interests
defending their preeminence.
And on the other hand,
a bunch of solar entrepreneurs
out of their garages
with, with virtually nothing.
Its like me going into the
boxing ring with Muhammad Ali.
It's just not a contest.
It's done.
and economic progress
has been at the heart
of the election of congressmen.
And there's generally
been a lot more money
from the energy companies
than the developers.
So the environmental
movement may be
viewed by most of the public
as important,
but to the politician
who's elected,
who gives them money?
There's no benefit to them
in looking at the solution
of long-range problems,
like global warming
or the conservation of energy.
It's a short-term problem
that he's got to address
to get re-elected.
Follow the money.
It's not a fad.
The concern for environment
is a very...
Many of us believed,
if, uh, you just elected
the right people
and they passed the right laws,
if you could
bring a case to court
and get a ruling, then everybody
would have to be good.
Well, no.
People said,
"You can't make me do anything."
And that in part, set up
a conflict that to some extent
endures to this day.
A case in point
in the '60s and '70s
was people
went to logging areas.
City people went and shook their
fingers at the loggers and said,
"Stop clear-cutting."
And the loggers
looked at these folks.
I was a logger, so I'm
on their side on this one.
They just said,
"You're not from here.
"You don't know
what you're talking about.
"And your entire effort
seems to be
"making sure
that my livelihood goes away.
Why don't you just go away?"
Just look around.
All the land's going into parks.
And if it all goes
into parks, then, uh,
we just won't have no timber
and jobs will go.
Housing will go sky high.
This area will become
practically a ghost town.
And so as a result,
what you got was,
instead of some engagement
that might have lead to better
forest practices right away,
you got a standoff
that lasted decades.
Then you have to ask yourself,
"Is the thing that we want
"to make a big fuss
and feel righteous
or is the thing that we want
better forest practices?"
Which is a completely
arguable thing for people
who would not only like to keep
their job as loggers,
but have these
rural communities keep going,
because logging is what they do.
Sustainable logging
looks to them
like a good thing
put in those terms.
But put in the terms
of "stop what you are doing,
you bad person you,"
that doesn't fly.
The environmental movement
was becoming
more professionalized
and Washington-centric.
And to a certain extent,
the environmental movement
developed some clout through
the big national organizations,
but it also became susceptible
to being overpowered
by bigger organizations
with deeper pockets.
I began to recognize that much
of what the early environmental
movement was trying to do--
to litigate,
to legislate, to lobby
in a top-down fashion
could buy time.
It could hold off the worst,
but it could never implement
true sustainability.
A whole cadre of people
that I hung out with
wanted to solve problems
right now directly
with minimal resources
and maximum ingenuity.
We imagined that we were
outlaw designers.
We had a sense that there
were design solutions
that would be brought to bear
on everything
from, say, solar technology
to energy conservation
and efficiency.
We wanted to take
the engineering approach and say
"Let's just fix that."
There's not
a political fix for it,
but there is a technological fix
for it; just do it.
Don't try to change
human nature.
It's not going to change.
Don't try to change politics,
it's too clueless.
You can change technology
and that will fix things.
Human nature can stay
right where it is,
the politics can
catch on 20 years later,
but, meanwhile,
you've fixed the problem.
Many large American companies
had within them
individuals and small groups
desperate to innovate
in the same way.
For example, since the '60s,
there were people
within General Motors--
I know I've talked to them--
who were designing
super-efficient cars
with technologies
like electricity
and hybrid-electric
or even hydrogen.
And yet senior management,
I think had a lack
of imagination
and a resistance to change.
There was a sense
that if you just keep doing
what you've always done,
you're safe.
Probably the biggest
shift in perspective I've ever had
was going from being
a somewhat Libertarian,
grassroots, uh,
fringe-y outsider,
to working in the center
of power in California,
which is the governor's office,
for a guy who was
exactly my age.
Who is now an elected
governor of the state
who was appointing my friends
to various positions of power.
Well, you know,
I'm an activist.
I think when we have problem
like air pollution
or kids who can't read,
we do something about it.
Instead of sitting around
just talking,
I think we ought to do whatever
the governmental process
can accomplish within the limits
of the budget.
Governor Brown had an office
of appropriate technology,
which I wound up being part of.
We brought in people like
the astronaut Rusty Schweickart,
who was totally in a
counter-cultural frame of reference,
even though he was
an astronaut.
At that time,
I was growing a moustache
and growing my hair long,
you know, and so...
Um, you know, I was
the astronaut hippie.
Well, you know, Jerry Brown,
here he is,
a student of Rachel Carson,
and people like Paul Ehrlich
and, you know,
everybody who's
a part of this revolution.
My principals are simple:
protect the Earth,
serve the people
and explore the universe.
So, I'm among friends.
I ultimately became the chairman
of the California
Energy Commission.
It fits right in.
I mean, the biggest impact
on the environment
is the way in which
we use energy.
The California Energy Commission
led the way
into that revolution
in improving the efficiency
with which we control and use
and generate energy.
The Department of Energy
in California
has been the most intelligent
energy conserving,
I think, governmental body
probably in the world.
They set in motion
the ability for people
who had solar collectors
or wind generators
to run their meter backwards
and put their locally made
back into the grid
and get paid for it,
uh, very early on,
this is mid-1970s.
Jimmy Carter
had a terrific energy policy.
It had the goal
of getting at least 20%
of the nation's energy
from renewable energy resources
by the year 2000.
And a series of proposed
policies that,
had they been implemented,
actually would have
gotten us there.
He had solar water heaters
on the White House roof.
A generation from now,
this solar heater
can either be a curiosity,
a museum piece,
an example of a road not taken,
or it can be just a small part
of one of the greatest
ventures ever undertaken
by the American people.
He gave me the best job
of my life,
running the Federal Solar Energy
Research Institute.
And a budget that increased
and doubled every year
that I was there
and the opportunity
to really do
some important things.
The energy crisis has
not yet overwhelmed us,
but it will
if we do not act quickly.
It's a problem that we will not
be able to solve
in the next few years.
It's likely to get
progressively worse
through the rest
of this century.
We must not be selfish or timid
if we hope to have
a decent world
for our children
and our grandchildren.
We simply must balance
our demand for energy
with our rapidly
shrinking resources.
By acting now,
we can control our future
instead of letting
the future control us.
Carter, I think,
made a fundamental mistake.
Which was he saw the transition
as one of constraint
and as of one of privation,
and of giving up,
and of lowered lifestyle.
In a period from 1973 to 1980,
the price of oil went from
four dollars to $30 a barrel.
And that clearly was enough
to cause the public
to support things like
fuel efficiency standards
for automobiles and other things
that would have been
unless you'd had a crisis.
I'm Jack Lemmon
for the Sierra Club.
America's Energy Crisis is much
more than just a fuel shortage.
Believe me, today we all
have to do our bit
to conserve energy.
It just can't be wasted.
You know, at the rate the world
is using its oil,
we'd have to discover
a new Alaska or Texas
every six months.
The energy problems we face
are real and they're serious.
And they are not going to get
any better unless we all help.
Energy conservation is not just
a Band-Aid solution.
It is the only means
that we have
to keep our economy
and environment healthy.
They tell us we must learn
to live with less,
and teach our children
that their lives
will be less full and prosperous
than ours have been,
that the America of the coming
years will be a place where,
because of our past excesses,
it will be impossible
to dream and make
those dreams come true.
I don't believe that.
And I don't believe
you do, either.
That's why I'm seeking
the presidency.
I cannot and will not stand by
and see this great country
destroy itself.
Our leaders attempt
to blame their failures
on circumstances
beyond their control,
on false estimates by unknown,
unidentifiable experts,
who rewrite modern history
in an attempt to convince us
our high standard of living--
the result
of thrift and hard work-- is
somehow selfish extravagance,
which we must renounce
as we join in sharing scarcity.
I am, I am much more aware now
than I was earlier
of the role of personalities.
Who you elect as president
of the United States,
and frankly president of a dozen
other countries, really matters.
With the right president
and the right policies
cued up and ready to be
put into place,
we could have done
something significant.
It was a major failure
of my generation
that we didn't get that done.
There you go again.
For reasons that I just
cannot begin to comprehend,
Reagan did his very best
to completely shut down
the renewable energy effort.
Uh, in the instance
of the institute that I led,
he reduced our budget
by more the 80%,
fired half of the staff
and fired all
of our contractors,
two of whom subsequently
went on to win Nobel Prizes.
It was just devastating.
But for one year,
we did have within it
an element
of a very good energy policy.
It's morning again in America.
And under the leadership
of President Reagan,
our country is prouder
and stronger and better.
Why would we ever want to return
to where we were?
The Reagan White House
has finally dismantled
the last vestiges
of the Carter Administration.
Workmen have now taken down
the solar water heating system
installed on the White House
roof in 1979.
We lost 30 years.
We lost 30 years
because both sides
ossified into their ideologies.
And if we've learned anything,
it's that we're in this
We still have a lot of options,
if we haven't passed
the tipping point.
And this is where the science
starts getting a little scary.
No external force is
imposing these environmental
problems on us.
They have arisen
because every morning
six billion people get up
and have breakfast
and go to work
and do their thing
and come home at night,
you know?
Environmental problems emerge
out of daily life
and the solutions
for the environmental problems
are also rooted in daily life.
We need six billion people
to get up
and have a different
and do things differently.
Is that realistic?
Probably not.
But it is at least the hope,
or the belief I have,
you know, which has been able
to sustain 35 years
of work on this effort.
And it's the one I'll keep
for the next ten or 20 years,
as long as I'm able
to keep working.
Well, I've always been a, uh...
called myself
a "troubled optimist."
I'm hopeful for the future
despite the recent past,
in the sense that I believe
that you owe a responsibility
to your children,
your grandchildren
and their children.
That's an important concept
of the environmental movement
that will always be there.
While we're deeply engrossed
with all of our little
weekly issues,
if we deal with them
in this larger perspective,
we're engaging
a set of activities
which go way beyond
individual lifespan.
Way beyond children
and grandchildren,
way beyond parents,
great grandparents
to the whole frame
of at least human
civilizational life.
Once you get
comfortable with that,
then you start to, you know,
go further out still
to three and a half billion
years back of life on Earth,
and maybe we'll do another three
and a half billion years.
That's pretty interesting
to try to hold in your mind.
And once you've held it
in your mind,
uh, what do you do on Monday?
Well, I think it's fine
Building jumbo planes
Takin' a ride
On a cosmic train
Switch on summer
From a slot machine
Get what you
want to if you want
'Cause you can get anything
I know we've come a long way
We're changing day to day
But tell me
where do the children play...
Well, you roll on roads
Over fresh green grass
For your lorryloads
Pumping petrol gas
And you make them long
And you make them tough
But they just go on and on
And it seems
that you can't get off
Oh, I know we've come
a long way
We're changing day to day
But tell me,
where do the children play...
Well, you've cracked the sky
Scrapers fill the air
But will you
keep on building higher
Till there's no more
room up there?
Will you make us laugh?
Will you make us cry?
Will you tell us
when to live?
Will you
tell us when to die?
I know we've come a long way
We're changing day to day
But tell me,
where do the children play?
Do-do, do-do
Do-do, do-do, do
do-do, do
Do-do, do, do.
Published 08/26/2013
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