Blame it on that big-name environmentalist author and activist Bill McKibben. The guy told us 20 years ago that nature was over (in his book The End of Nature); 10 years after that he said we should only have one kid. In his new book, Deep Economy, he says that (with apologies to our esteemed advertisers) buying new things takes its toll on the planet. And this year he instigated a worldwide be-in to fight global warming through his Web site, StepItUp2007.org.
But, uh, that happened last weekend. There was the L.A. Earth Day Global Warming Smackdown in Griffith Park, the big chunk of ice left to melt on Hollywood Boulevard, and fun with Carbon Man on the Third Street Promenade. Its almost like the skinny McKibben body-slammed Earth Day back a week just to get more attention paid to the cloak of carbon dioxide trapping heat against the skin of our wilting planet. The nerve.
Luckily, others have kept Earth Day close to where its been since the late Wisconsin started it April 22, 1970. And this year in Los Angeles, Earth Day weekend offers more chances to reduce the size of your vegan-shod carbon footprint, as well as pull some plastic bags out of creeks before they get to the sea. Dont get too ambitious: In a mere week you cant compete with Senator Gaylord NelsonNo-Impact Man Colin Beavan, the New Yorkbased author and blogger who in the last week turned up on about a dozen electronically powered television and radio shows to explain how hes not using electricity (or paper products, or even subways at least not until his book comes out)... But you can gear up in rubber gloves and boots and make your influence felt. The upstream Styrofoam awaits you.
Friday, April 20Kathryn Blume has traipsed through Vermont with McKibben to protest global warming, written to her fave airline about reducing its carbon load (What if you branched out into rail travel?) and galvanized a thousand-some international theater companies to perform Lysistrata on the same night, just before the U.S. started bombing Iraq. Now shes adapted Aristophanes 2,400-year-old classic about women who give up sex for peacein a one-woman show she calls The Boycott, in which the first lady stops putting out sex until her husband stops putting out carbon. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., April 20-21, 8 p.m.; Sun., April 22, 4 & 7:30 p.m.; $25. (310) 399-3666.
Saturday, April 21Surfer, heal thyself: All water in the L.A. basin flows to the ocean, so you can clean it up before it gets there or head to the beach for a final pitch. You could start by lending a hand to the Sierra Stewards cleanup efforts in the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, the 18th pearl for migrating birds on the Pacific Flyway and a significant buffer between the city and the sea. On Saturday you can work alongside Los Angeles City Council Member Bill Rosendahl and give him an earful about L.A.s contribution to our toxic beach problem. (Or congratulate him on how hard the citys trying to clean up its storm-water runoff: You decide.) Meet at the north end of the Esplanade in Playa del Rey; Sat.-Sun., April 21-22, 9 a.m.; free. (310) 821-9045.
Heal the Bay gives you choices: a Nothin but Sand cleanup at the Santa Monica Pier, a Compton Creek Bike Path & Equestrian Trail Cleanup and a Panorama City sweep way up in the watershed. www.healthebay.org/news/2007/03_13_earthmonth for details, starting times, waiver forms and other stuff.
Or you can help restore a state park with cleanups and tree plantings at Malibu Lagoon State Beach, Rio de Los Angeles State Park or Topanga State Park. Sat., April 21, 9 a.m.; www.calparks.org/programs/earth-day for meeting spots (and even more sites).
California Chamber of Commerce president Alan Zaremberg is worried that California might emerge as an environmental leader again. He thinks coming down hard on greenhouse gases will hurt our economy. Hes wrong: Floods and drought will hurt our economy. Go heckle him at Science Matters: Global Climate Change and the Human Response, the California Science Centers afternoon wonk session. There to help you take down Mr. Z will be Inez Fung, professor of atmospheric science at UC Berkeley. Everybody believes in climate change at Berkeley. California Science Center, 700 State Dr., L.A.; Sat., April 21, 1:30-3 p.m.; free. (213) 744-2420 or www.californiasciencecenter.org. Forty artists, 50 works of art, 10,000 square feet of vinyl but nothing new: Peter Schulbergs Eco-Logical Art gallery exhibits art made of recycled materials, and hes got billboards plastered all over the city to brag about it. Go to the gallery opening party of his new show, Off The Wall 3, and tell him how cool he is. Eco-Logical Art, 4829 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; Sat., April 21, 6-11 p.m.; free. (310) 525-0676 or www.eco-logicalart.org.
Martin Sexton powers his tour bus with biodiesel (a vegetable-based fuel that works in any diesel car, no conversion necessary), sells organic cotton tour shirts and recycles all backstage trash. On his new album, Seeds, he sings about giving back in his guitar-soul, gospel-y way. House of Blues, 8430 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.;Sat., April 26, 7:30 p.m.; $20. (323) 848-5100. Saturday-Sunday, April 21-22Lots of folks want him. Only one event gets him. If youre looking for Ed Begley Jr. on Earth Day, just hang at the Griffith Park Energy Film Festival, where hes slated to participate in a panel discussion or two. Highlights of the fest include Leanne Allisons Being Caribou, in which the filmmaker takes a George Bush doll to meet the caribou of the Yukon (Sat., 2 p.m.), the HBO documentary Too Hot to Handle (Sun., 12:05 p.m.), and a funny little short about getting fuel from fries featuring Daryl Hannah and Dr. Andrew Weil (Sun., 2:15 p.m.). Old standbys will screen too: Chris Paines charmingly outraged Who Killed the Electric Car? (Sun., 2:30 p.m.) and, you know, that other big documentary hey, is the guy behind it running for president or not? (Sat., 12:10 p.m.) Autry National Center in Griffith Park, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Feliz; free. http://angeles.sierraclub.org/outings/featured.asp.
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Sunday, April 22If you must defy McKibben and consume this weekend, Lululemon Athletica stores across the Southland will host free screenings of An Inconvenient Truth (7:30 p.m. in Santa Monica; 6:45 p.m. in Beverly Hills) along with workshops on sustainability and acroyoga demonstrations (9:30 a.m. in Beverly Hills). Local environmental superstars from TreePeople and storytellers from Divine Caroline will be around to help consume treats from Urth Café and Real Food Daily. Lululemon Athletica, 331 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; 332 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills; www.lululemon.com.
Monday, April 23Ladies, fix your bikes! Its not clear why the Bicycle Kitchen needs a ladies night, unless some male bike geeks still condescend to women who dont know how to align calipers. But such intimidation never happens on Mondays, when the bitchen kitchen becomes a place where the grease under our nails is sexier than any manicure that ever existed, and an all-female staff gives out all the hot tips on bike maintenance and repair. Bicycle Kitchen, 706 N. Heliotrope Dr., L.A.; Mon., April 23, 6:30-9:30 p.m. (323) 662-2776 or www.bicyclekitchen.com.
Tuesday, April 24Thomas Hillard hosts the Hollywood Global Warming Meetup, where people can bang heads over the solutions that elude us. Hes aiming to capture the newly motivated emerging from Earth Day weekend events. Make it so good he runs out of chairs. Sign up at http://globalwarming.meetup.com/53/calendar/5612366. Tom Morello, a.k.a. the Nightwatchman, isnt environment-specific in his rage, but who could argue that the world wouldnt burn cleaner if the former Rage Against the Machine guitarist didnt have wars and injustice to complain about? War, poverty, pollution its all connected. Besides, Entertainment Weekly likes his espresso-rich voice, and he does great Creedence covers at protest marches, even in the rain. In town on his One Man Revolution tour, Morello gives a free show and signs stuff at Amoeba Records, 6400 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Wed., April 25, 6 p.m. (323) 245-6400.
Thursday, April 26You think Christians dont care about global warming? That people who love Jesus love pollution? That oil men go to heaven? Then its time to meet Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth. Author of Serve God, Save the Planet, Sleeth roams the country preaching to saved and sinner alike that compact fluorescents, low-emission vehicles and solar power trump all that hooey about apocalypse. Afterward, members of the California Interfaith Power and Light club show how energy efficiency works. Praise be! St. Augustine by the Sea Episcopal Church, 1227 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Thurs., April 26, 6:30 p.m.; free. www.servegodsavetheplanet.org.