Earth Days

A PBS film traces the history of the environmental movement and the origins of the first Earth Day and assesses how far we’ve come and how little ground we’ve gained.
The PBS American Experience film Earth Days came out last year, but its message is enduring. The film, by award-winning documentary filmmaker Robert Stone, takes viewers back to the origins of Earth Day and the birth of the environmental movement. It goes back to the environmental movement’s first pioneers, those who were active long before Leonardo DiCaprio went green. People like Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich, Whole Earth catalog founder Stewart Brand and renewable energy pioneer Hunter Lovins.

It examines the popular green uprising that colored the 1970s and the many legislative battles that were fought and won to protect the nation’s air, water and wildlife.

Only in looking back to that first national teach-in about the environment, held on April 22, 1969, when more than 20 million Americans participated in celebrations and demonstrations in support of political action to protect the environment, are we able to appreciate how far we have come in terms of environmental awareness, and how short-changed we have been in terms of real progress on environmental issues.

Writes PBS about the film: “Earth Days is both a poetic meditation on man’s complex relationship with nature and an engaging history of the revolutionary achievements — and missed opportunities — of groundbreaking eco-activism.”