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CNN Student News Transcript: April 22, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Explore the wide-ranging impact of water pollution in Chesapeake Bay
  • Take a tour of the eco-friendly features at the world's greenest museum
  • Find out how following the "three Rs" can help keep the planet healthy
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(CNN Student News) -- April 22, 2009

Quick Guide

A Sickening Effect - Explore the wide-ranging impact of water pollution in Chesapeake Bay.

Built to be Green - Take a tour of the eco-friendly features at the world's greenest museum.

The Three Rs - Find out how following the "three Rs" can help keep the planet healthy.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: It's Wednesday, the 22nd of April, and we welcome you to this special Earth Day edition of CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz. What we're gonna do first is bring you some facts on how this holiday got started.

First Up: Earth Day

AZUZ: The idea for Earth Day was proposed by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1969. The event was first celebrated one year later, the same year that Congress established the Environmental Protection Agency. Earth Day began in the U.S., but now it's celebrated around the world. About 20 million people took part in that first one. Compare that to last year, when an estimated one billion people, that's like 1/6th of the world's population, were involved in Earth Day activities. The goal of this event is to raise awareness about environmental issues, and Earth Day is often credited with starting the environmental movement here in the U.S. In 1995, Senator Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work on environmental issues and for founding Earth Day.

A Sickening Effect

AZUZ: One of the biggest issues that the Environmental Protection Agency deals with is water. Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972. It deals with the quality of the U.S. water system; places like the Chesapeake Bay. It's an area that's home to more than 3,000 animal species. But as John King shows us, pollution in the water there is taking a toll, not just on wildlife, but on people, as well.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Leaving Cape Charles Harbor just after first light, the closest crab pots are more than four miles out into Chesapeake Bay, and Don Pierce knows it is about to get rough.

DON PIERCE, CAPTAIN, BRI-STEFF: I don't know about the crabs yet. We ain't got there, but it's angry enough, so don't kill yourself.

KING: The angry comes fast: swells rising above the bow and crashing over the stern. Pierce hooks the buoys and wraps them on the winch. Crewman Harvey Brown brings in the catch, the Chesapeake's coveted blue crabs. It is both methodical and dangerous work; more clams packed in as bait, the catch dumped out and separated, the trap returned to the churning waters. For forty-eight years Pierce has worked these waters, lived off them and watched them change for the worse.

PIERCE: She's dying daily. Too much phosphorous, too much fertilizer, too much untreated waste.

KING: Nitrates, phosphorous, fertilizer, untreated waste: Where is that coming from?

PIERCE: We the people that live in the watershed of Chesapeake Bay, mainly. We the people.

KING: "Save the bay!" has been a rallying cry for four decades, just about as long as the annual Earth Day events. And yet the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's new report card rates it a 28 on a scale of 100. Don Pierce crabs and fishes a 190-mile-long stretch of the bay and sees the danger signs up close.

PIERCE: We have had an algae bloom in the upper bay that actually forms tide lines that turns green. In August, when the water gets hot is when we have most of our problems with our dead zones. And each year, our dead zones are getting bigger and bigger.

KING: Fewer crabs and narrow profit margins mean fewer jobs and more pressure to harvest, even when it would be wiser to stay on shore.

PIERCE: There used to be 60-70 boats out of my little town; now there's 20.

KING: And knowing what you know now, if you had to make the choice again, would you do it again?

PIERCE: No. Not at 16 years old. At 16 years old, there was so many jobs that you could do, you could clam. You went to work at 6 o'clock; you were done by 10, 11. You go to work at 6 o'clock now, you are still at it 6 o'clock that evening.


Built to be Green

AZUZ: Alright, from the east coast to the west coast. On the other side of the country, a science academy in San Francisco is making a major commitment to the environment. Made mostly from recycled materials; using 30 percent less energy than federal law requires. It took ten years and about $500 million to make it happen, but the California Academy of Science is the greenest museum in the world!


MARION WEBB, GREEN HOME EXPERT: Today in the 21st century, what should a natural history museum be? One was that we needed a building that really reflected our mission, and our mission is to explore, explain and protect the natural world. So, it was clear from the beginning that our building had to be as green as possible.

Some of the green building technologies that are incorporated into this building are extraordinarily complex. The piazza that's at the center of the building, for instance, is part of the natural ventilation scheme. It has an open center to it, so that as cool air drains down the slopes of the hills of the living roof, that cool air drops in to the piazza, and then there are automated windows that open to funnel that cool air out on to the exhibit floor.

There are a lot of benefits that you get from the living roof. It's a great insulator because of all the soil and plants up there, so it reduces the amount of energy you're using on heating and cooling the building below. When the rainwater hits our living roof, it gets absorbed into the roof, so it's not carrying any pollutants out into the environment. It's being used by the plants that are up on our roof.

There are a number of recycled materials in this building. The one that tends to really make people smile is that the walls are all insulated with recycled denim. In fact, 90% of the regularly occupied spaces have access to natural daylight, and that reduces the amount of electrical lights we have to put in the building, which is great. But one of the things that happens when you have a lot of windows is that you're worried about heat getting through the glass. So, we used a special glass that's glazed to prevent heat gain.

Now, most aquariums will take potable water and they'll add a complex salt mixture to that potable water to create the salt water for their tanks. We're about four miles away from the Pacific Ocean, and that allowed us to run a pipeline from the ocean underneath Golden Gate Park to our building, so that we're using nature's own source of salt water.

I think this is the kind of place that people enjoy coming to work every day, just for the environmental qualities of being here. And of course, when you get to come to work and see an albino alligator as you walk in the door every day, that helps too.


The Three Rs

AZUZ: Alright, that's kind of cool. But with a budget of $500 million, it's a little easier to design a building to be eco-friendly - they've got the resources. What about those of us who don't have those kinds of resources? What can you and I do to help out the planet? One solution is to stick with the three Rs, and we don't mean reading, writing and 'rithmetic.


AZUZ: How many times have you ignored the phrase "reduce, reuse, recycle"? What we need this Earth Day is a change in mind set. If you were to think of the Earth as your body, for example, you'd probably take better care of it. You'd want to wear less garbage. You'd want to smell cleaner. And if trash were fat, you'd definitely want to trim it.

Between 1960 and 2007, the average amount of stuff wasted per person increased from 2.7 pounds to 4.6 pounds per day. It's time for a trash diet! Reduce by choosing a washable glass instead of a disposable paper cup. Clean with a cloth instead of a disposable paper towel. Go ahead and buy the shirt, but carry it out without the shopping bag. The trick here is to stop the fat before you put it on!

The part that says reuse is easy. You don't like to go around wearing small clothes you wore in elementary school. Why should you cover the Earth in them? Hand 'em down to your kid brother or sister or give them away to someone in need! Break out your old, reusable lunch box instead of brown-bagging your food. Refill your reusable mechanical pencil. The more we reuse resources without buying stuff we don't need and trashing what's still good, the better off our Earth is.

And as far as recycling goes, your body recycles blood with each beat of your heart. Keep the world's heartbeat strong by recycling the materials you use! Take the paper to the recycle bin. Recycle your old cell phone or MP3 player. Don't throw cans in the can. And try to buy products made from recycled materials or packaging.

The point of trying to stay healthy is so you can feel better and live longer. Let's help the world do the same.


Blog Promo

AZUZ: Are you or is your class actively involved in the three Rs? Are you doing anything special to celebrate Earth Day? If so, we want to know about it! Head to our blog at, we've got a brand new entry up, and we want you to tell us all about your environmental efforts.

Before We Go

AZUZ: And finally today, we're bringing you a guy who definitely knows the three Rs. Meet Mr. Jalopy. His whole deal is reusing, repairing and rebuilding stuff, like the world's largest iPod. He made it from an old record console. He installed a computer inside the 1950s player, and it actually digitizes the music straight off the turntable. His name, Jalopy, comes from slang for busted-up old cars, and his motto seems simple: If it's broke, fix it!



AZUZ: A down to Earth attitude that might make some folks green with envy. That's all for this special edition of CNN Student News. We hope each and every one of you has an exceptional Earth Day.

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