Wednesday, May 16 at 7:30 pm
by Robert Stone
This poignant film looks back to the dawn and development of the modern environmental movement through the extraordinary stories of the era’s pioneers such as former Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, biologist and author of Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich, Whole Earth Catalog founder, Stewart Brand, Apollo Nine astronaut, Rusty Schweickart, and renewable energy pioneer Hunter Lovins. Widespread concern about the environment in America was on the rise in the early 1950s after a small group of scientists began to document the impact of our technology on the Earth’s ecosystem. Within a decade it seemed to many Americans as if the post-war dream of a better world brought about through science, technology, and economic growth — the American Dream — was turning into an unfathomable nightmare. The post-war economic boom had fueled industrial expansion, and the interstate highway program had encouraged mass migration to the suburbs. But emissions from new vehicles and production factories clogged the skies, and cities around the country experienced “smog episodes.”
In 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring called attention to the dwindling bird population in her town, placing blame on American chemical manufacturers. A nationwide debate ensued between Carson’s followers and the chemical companies until President John F. Kennedy stepped in and called for further scientific research. When the evidence largely supported Carson’s claims, encouraged activists continued to raise public awareness about the environmental impact of industrial expansion. As a new conservation movement sprang forth, groups small and large fought for causes such as preserving Florida’s Everglades and protesting dam construction in the Grand Canyon. In December 1969, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson hired 25-year-old Denis Hayes to organize a national teach-in about the environment. Just four months later, on April 22, over 20 million Americans across the country participated in celebrations and demonstrations — the largest in American history — demanding political action to protect the environment. Their grassroots call to action led to groundbreaking national legislation and created a new consciousness about the fragility of the earth’s resources.
To learn more about Film Series held
at Humanist Hall