Earth Day has been celebrated every April 22 since 1970. Some 20 million people marked the first one and a lot has been done to protect the environment since then. The ozone layer may still be a burning issue but both air and water quality are much improved. Recycling has become a way of life -- and a daily chore -- for millions of people. And the green movement is now part of the social fabric as well as the business community.
Throughout the U.S., there are hundreds of federal, state and local events marking the day, but Earth Day is definitely a global event. Here's a sampling of our coverage.
Eco-tourism is a growing business. The town of Reynolds, Indiana -- population 547 -- may be a good destination. Reynolds has dubbed itself "BioTown, USA." It's goal is to become the nation's first, entirely energy-self reliant municipality. Some 155 vehicles in town are flex-fuel models.
Reynolds also plans to turn all of its household and agricultural waste into electricity. The town will also be home to an ethanol plant. which will add 60 jobs. Scott Cohn visited the town
Many companies have gone green and it is no longer a simple PR gesture. At first glance, you might think that a toymaker like Mattel might not be doing much, but the California-based maker of the Barbie doll franchise is hard at work.
About one-third of the packaging for its toys comes from recycled materials. Its massive warehouse is lit by skylights and it transports goods from the local port at night when traffic is light, thus increasing fuel efficiency.
And with all the emphasis on recyclable plastic and bio-degradable products, one might ask if Barbie and Ken would be rendered so. CEO Robert Eckert says no. Dolls and toys don't work that way. They're passed down and passed around and are built to last.
Green And Yellow
With so many big companies going green, you'd think there'd be little argument against it. But there's always room and need for the contrarian view. Peter Schwartz, former chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, and Michael Ewall, director of the Energy Justice Network, squared off on "Power Lunch."
Ewall says going green is necessary because we're starting to run out some basic resources (coal, natural gas, uranium) and that the free market does not "know what's best for humanity's health."
Schwartz counters that the corporate move to green is "cowardly appeasement" to environmentalists, who want to protect nature from humanity not for humanity's benefit.
Ewall calls ethanol "a false solution" adding that wind and solar power are better sources for transportation. Schwartz simply says let the "free market produce the kind of energy people want to buy."