Act 1Act 1 focuses on the conservation movement of the ‘60s, the Sierra Club, David Brower and the battle to halt dams in the Grand Canyon. It grows out of three earlier battles to halt dams: Hetch Hetchy, which was lost; Dinosaur Monument, which was won; and Glen Canyon, which was sacrificed. Saving the Grand Canyon looks like a lost cause until David Brower places ads denouncing the dams. The IRS retaliates and the uproar becomes front-page news. Opposition grows until Congress bows to pressure – canceling and finally prohibiting dams. It is the biggest victory yet, a pivotal battle that brings the flowering of conservation. However, Brower is soon forced out of the Sierra Club. He is coming to a larger vision, just as Earth Day heralds a new environmental consciousness.
Act 2Act 2 looks at ‘70s environmentalism around pollution, focusing on the battle led by Lois Gibbs over Love Canal. We connect Rachel Carson and Silent Spring to the golden era of legislation and groups like NRDC that arose to enforce regulations. But it takes Love Canal to put toxic waste on the map. Lois Gibbs leads angry housewives in a two-year battle to save their children from 20,000 tons of toxic chemicals. They are relentless, protesting and conducting health studies and demanding relocation, even taking EPA officials hostage until President Carter agrees to buy them out. However it’s just the beginning. President Reagan counterattacks. Grassroots activists fighting toxics in their own backyard arise all over the country; and environmental racism gives birth to an environmental justice movement.
Act 3 is about alternative ecology strands, with the main story being Greenpeace’s campaign to save the whales. We begin with going back to the land, building ecological alternatives and exploring renewable energy. Greenpeace starts by protesting nuclear bombs. But it is putting themselves in front of harpoons to stop whaling that launches Greenpeace on the wildest ride of any environmental group. Soon they are fighting on every front all over the world. Paul Watson, thrown out of Greenpeace for tossing a sealer’s club in the water, is reborn as Sea Shepherd and takes on whalers. Radicals and mainstream come together for a moratorium on whaling, one of environmentalism’s greatest victories, yet a battle that must be fought again and again.