WATCH: CBS Digs Up A Video Of Walter Cronkite On The First Earth Day Ever, He Warns Viewers To 'Act or Die'


CBS News has dug up a brief special report from the CBS Evening News covering the first-ever “Earth Day.” The program was originally broadcast on April 22, 1970 and it was anchored by Walter Cronkite. The video can be viewed in the tweet below. Cronkite opens the report:


Good evening. A unique day in American history is ending. Earth Day. A day set aside for a nationwide outpouring of man seeking his own survival. A day dedicated to enlisting all the citizens of a bountiful country in a common cause of saving life from the deadly byproducts of that bounty. The fouled skies, the filthy waters, the littered Earth. Yet the gravity of the message of Earth Day still came through. Act or die.

The video cuts to a male reporter with the smoggy skyline of Denver behind him. He tells viewers, “Next to Los Angeles, Denver has the best climate in the country for producing smog. In this unlikely seeming place, the air is threatened. Earth Day is a focus for efforts to save it.

Next, the camera shows a large group of students at an Earth Day demonstration in Boston and they are singing, “All we are saying, is give Earth a chance,” to the tune of the old Beatles song.

Later that day, students formed lines of makeshift coffins in the city’s airport. The narrator said, “Students finishing Earth Day with what they call a “die-in” at Boston’s Logan Airport.”


The video cuts to Fifth Avenue in NYC. “For two hours, fashionable Fifth Avenue was off limits to automobiles and became a crowded pedestrian mall…”

The sky is seen filled with “black balloons by the hundreds” representing “pollution of the land, sea and air.”

The report ultimately takes us to Chicago demonstrating students are singing about carbon monoxide and other toxins. The voiceover tells us:

In terms of the air pollution, Chicago ranks close to the top nationally, which isn’t much to sing about. But that they did, at a mass rally in the Loop to mark Earth Day. Over 4,000 persons came to listen to the singing and the speeches, much less than was expected.

Among the recommendations to improve the environment: The establishment of pollution courts to quickly try the offenders…And the elimination of the internal combustion engine. A suggestion no doubt aimed at purifying the city’s often choking atmosphere.


Aside from the unmistakable voices of Cronkite and the others, 49 years later, we’re hearing the same message.

Instead of  Walter Cronkite telling us to “Act or Die,” we have AOC saying that if we do nothing, the world will end in twelve years.

In between, theories of global cooling have given way to theories of global warming.

Despite all the warnings, we’ve somehow managed to survive.

And that is the inconvenient truth.


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