Environment: The Dawning of Earth Day

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The biggest target of all was the automobile. In Danbury, Conn., students made ready to perform the now popular ritual of burying an internal-combustion engine. At Wayne State University they marshaled pickets for General Motors' headquarters (see BUSINESS). Alternate modes of nonpolluting transportation called for "bike-ins," balloon ascensions and pedestrian parades. Even cities joined the act. New York announced a ban on cars and the creation of pedestrian malls along 14th Street and a 45-block stretch of Fifth Avenue. Miami, never to be outdone, promised prizes to the "most polluted" floats in a huge, car-free "Dead Orange Parade," supposed to symbolize the effects of local pollution.

Despite such flamboyant acts, Earth Day plans were largely calm and thoughtful. Technical schools set up detailed seminars in antipollution techniques. Guided "ecotours" of ravaged—and unspoiled-areas were arranged in many parts of the country. Boy and Girl Scouts were ready to quietly scour townships, picking up litter or washing public squares. In sum, the day was designed to demonstrate America's growing consciousness of ecology, hence of life itself. "It could," says Nelson, "kick off one of the toughest—and most expensive—political fights this country has ever seen."

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