Almanac: The first Earth Day
And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: April 22nd, 1970, 48 years ago today ... the very first "Earth Day."
As CBS News' Walter Cronkite described it, on a special broadcast called "Earth Day: A Question of Survival," that was "a unique day in American history … a day set aside for a nationwide outpouring of mankind seeking its own survival."
That first Earth Day was a nationwide series of events championing the cause of the environment, from the streets of New York City (where Fifth Avenue was turned into a crowded pedestrian mall) to a sixth grade science class in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Uncounted millions took part that first Earth Day ... the first, but hardly the last.
Twenty years later, "Sunday Morning"'s own Charles Kuralt reported on Earth Day 1990. "In all the frozen cosmos we know of no other place like this."
Kuralt referred to the planting of 59,000 trees as "an apology to the Earth."
Which brings us to today. This 48th Earth Day focuses on ending plastic pollution, including the estimated 480 billion or more plastic bottles sold worldwide every year.
Nearly half a century later, the Earth still needs not just our apology, but our help.
- "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" is growing rapidly, study reveals (CBS News, 03/22/18)
- Once-pristine Arctic choking on our plastic addiction ("CBS This Morning,"10/23/17)
- U.N. environment chief warns "we're facing an ocean Armageddon" (CBS News, 12/04/17)
- Could a tiny enzyme eradicate plastic garbage plaguing the world's oceans? (CBS News, 04/18/18)
For more info:
- Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution (earthday.org)
- Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit (pdf)
- Plastic Pollution Coalition
- The Canopy Project
- Plant a Billion Trees (The Nature Conservancy)
Story produced by Justin Hayter.
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