Earth Day brings reminders of progress -- and environmental challenges
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Tree plantings, park cleanups, recycling drives, energy-saving demonstrations and other events with environmental themes take place this week in schools, on campuses and in villages, towns and cities around the world to observe Earth Day on Wednesday.
At a kickoff event Sunday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Flaming Lips, moe and Los Lobos performed at a free concert where the Environmental Protection Administration's top official addressed the crowd. President Obama plans to speak Wednesday about renewable energy in Newton, Iowa, where two plants make towers and blades for wind turbines that generate pollution-free electricity Earth Day began on April 22, 1970 as a national environmental "teach-in," mainly at colleges. Back then, some chemical-polluted rivers caught fire and dense smog clouds harmed health in industrial areas.
Events this year also include distribution of free tomato plant seeds by the Campbell Soup Co. for backyard gardens and public broadcast network presentations Wednesday of a play called Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau, based on conversations between nature writer Henry David Thoreau and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson at a cabin alongside Walden Pond near Concord, Mass., during the mid-1800s. A more elaborate production comes from the Walt Disney Co., which created a lavish documentary called Earth that opens Wednesday in theaters nationwide. The film, narrated by actor James Earl Jones, shows three animal families traveling across the planet. Disney will plant a tree for each ticket sold during the movie's first week.
Crusader says: "Earth Day is a time when thousands of people who wouldn't necessarily identify themselves as environmentalists are inspired to learn about various aspects of green living, nature or energy issues. . . . We need as many people to join this revolution as we can." -- Meaghan O'Neill, editor of the websites TreeHugger.com and PlanetGreen.com
EPA head says: "Earth Day grew into a movement that built a better future for all of us. We've helped clear harmful toxins from our air, our water and land. . . . It is our job to protect and preserve our planet and the people that live on it. We've seen how far we can come if individuals take the initiative and get involved." -- Administrator Lisa Jackson, administrator of the environmental protection agency
Commentator says: "While Earth Day celebrations are important in bringing our communities together, I hope we all stick to why Earth Day was founded in the first place: making the environment a priority in our daily lives so as to keep it clean and healthy." -- Michael Sullivan, Ventura County (Calif.) Reporter
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