EARTH DAY TURNS 40 – PIONEERING ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS PASS THE TORCH

by Brad Thompson
Apr 29, 20

The 1970 student organizers of Project Survival returned “home” for an Earth Day panel at Northwestern University where they passed the torch of environmental activism to current students.

The panelists, many of them now leaders in environmental sciences, promoted the power of student mobilization today. They addressed environmental issues and offered practical solutions for making the world greener, healthier and sustainable. Meet them all in this video and learn about taking action on today’s critical environmental challenges.

The student-run, grassroots Project Survival “teach-out” in January 1970 attracted national attention and helped launch the environmental movement. Americans celebrated the first Earth Day a few months later, followed soon after by the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The all-night Project Survival lectures and discussions drew national media coverage and over 10,000 people participated. 

The student organizers went back to their laboratories to measure phosphate levels in laundry detergents, just one of their efforts to generate change with facts and research. 

New technology gives people new avenues to make a difference and galvanize change, said panelist Warren Muir, executive director of the Division of Earth and Life Studies at the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine.

“What’s going to be on people’s mobile devices here within a matter of a few years are going to empower people with more and more analytics, more and more information and more and more power to act,” Muir said.

The Earth Day celebrations culminate the 2009-2010 One Book One Northwestern program, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Tom Friedman’s book “Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – And How It Can Renew America.” The One Book program was hosted by the Initiative for Energy and Sustainability at Northwestern.

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