Earth Day

April 22, 2010 1:24:22 PM PDT
Brown rice and vegetables.

I suspect it's a bit pathetic, but that's what I remember most about the first Earth Day, 40 years ago today.

I was in college, and for lunch - at I think 35 cents a head - they served brown rice and veggies.

Back then, the folks celebrating Earth Day were dismissed as out-of-touch tree huggers, whose fascination with, yes, brown rice and veggies, was about the extent of their expertise about the earth.

Today, we know better. My kids - and their friends - have grown up understanding quite well how their parents have mucked up the planet. They recycle, they would no more litter than murder, they bust chops when the air conditioner is turned lower than 85. They still leave their lights on when they leave their bedroom, but they scowl when I use a plastic water bottle, and still are furious that I've yet to get a hybrid car. (They do give me kudos for putting in solar panels to power the house's electricity - far more "green" than a hybrid.)

And, perhaps most importantly, they understand that somehow human behavior has changed the planet's environment. People may argue about the extent of climate change and global warming, but my kids don't have to be convinced that humans bear responsibility for keeping earth clean and green. And they don't have to be convinced that the generations before them haven't done a good job of it.

There were some Earth Day activities today - and we'll show them to you tonight. Here at ABC's headquarters, there was a big exhibit of the things we can all do to help the planet. I came away with two recycling bags, and a great idea about putting more landscaping on rooftops in the city.

The big projects, of course, involve much more than rooftop lawns and recycling plastic. While that's a start, and important, the bigger hurdles remain the societal issues of automobile exhaust, and burning fossil fuel, and waste.

The man who used to rule China once said that a prairie fire starts with a single spark. That applies to environmental consciousness, to be sure. But without a broader effort, environmental action by individuals alone just won't cut it.

And so we search for some kind of solution. And consensus. But it's hardly a slam-dunk to meld the warring sentiments of "No Blood for Oil" and "Drill, Baby, Drill."

Maybe by the 80th Earth Day we'll figure it out.

Also at 11 tonight, our second installment of Consumer Reports study of sleep-related products. Earlier this week it was mattresses. Tonight it's pillows. Can a pillow really make a difference in terms of a good night's sleep? And is a pricey pillow really better than a cheaper one? Some surprising results. Sade Baderinwa has our story.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers (in for Scott Clark) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.


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