Earth Day 2000 Rally draws eclectic crowd

Families, students, pets and environmental activists descended upon the National Mall Saturday to participate in the Earth Day 2000 Rally.

People picnicked as music groups grooved amid a flurry of fliers and pamphlets – on recycled paper – that circulated around the crowd. Earth Day participants listened to musical acts that included Clint Black, James Taylor, Indigo Girls and Third Eye Blind, despite some chilly weather.

I’m freezing my ass off out here, Third Eye Blind lead singer and guitarist Stephan Jenkins said.

During the act, Jenkins addressed college students in the crowd, which was met with a loud cheer. He said it is sometimes necessary for students to protest in administration offices if they feel strongly about an issue.

It’s fun for young people to be a real pain-in-the-ass to the system.

Earth Day organizers said the main goal of the event was education. They added it was important to get young people involved in environmental issues that pose serious problems to the planet. One such problem is global warming, which has caused the Earth’s average temperature to rise, the rainfall to increase and the polar ice caps to thin.

With the Capitol building in the background, speakers throughout the day demanded the government provide better environmental protection legislation.

(The environment is) the greatest obstacle in the history of our species, and the solution is this building behind me, said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer and one of the featured speakers.

Other speakers took the opportunity to plug a candidate for the November presidential elections.

Growing up, I liked Batman, Spiderman and Ralph Nader, said Winona LaDuke, a Native-American rights activist who rallied for consumer advocate Ralph Nader. Nader is the Green Party’s presidential candidate.

Other exhibits on the Mall included electric-powered vehicles and clean-air exhibits. The city of Falls Church displayed an electric bus that boasted its advantages as having zero emissions, greater efficiency than traditional fuels and lighter weight. The bus’s maximum speed is 45 mph. It can go 0 to 25 mph in 14 seconds.

An inflatable power plant, whose message was to clean up dirty fuel production, was blown over by wind gusts in the afternoon.

A long line formed outside of the Children’s Museum of Washington’s Rolling Rainforest. Visitors could walk through a trailer and experience the habitat that is being destroyed worldwide.

There was even an Elvis sighting.

I’m the Green Environmental Elvis, the earth-conscious Elvis impersonator said. The Green Elvis wandered around the crowd singing songs about saving gas, being a vegetarian and saving the rainforests to Elvis Presley tunes. His repertoire included, Don’t Waste Fuel and Viva Falaffel.

I attracted a crowd for three songs worth, that’s not bad, he said as the group walked away.

Environmental organizations from across the country converged upon the air tent to pass out fliers and tell visitors how they can help improve air quality.

I’m here because it’s important to motivate people on environmental issues, said Lea Douville, a member of Earth Action.

Earth Day volunteer Alex Berger said he thinks environmental problems sometimes get ignored.

The world is going down the drain, and every day individuals can do something to help, he said. GW is really hypocritical with its recycling program – (it) could use non-disposable plates and silverware in J Street.

But LaDuke said in her speech that real change will not occur until the people in power feel the effects of environmental issues.

Only when white men realize that their testicles are shrinking is when we will change the environment.

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