Last year in Taiwan, a squad of six students distressed about the state of the Earth stripped to their skin and plowed past security into a government building. “It’s such an audacity for the government to walk about naked and say it’s wearing beautiful clothes,” explained one, which is another way of saying that he was streaking mad that Taiwan had neither signed nor ratified the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
This was something known in Taiwan as a “protest,” which we in the United States evidently regard as something to do when Republicans write up legislation denying medical care to immigrants. But one of these days we might think about raising hell in the streets over shrinking glaciers, too. Maybe we could get 500,000 people to march through downtown some Earth Day to object to the war being waged on our air, water, land, flora, fauna and open space. Or maybe six of us could storm the White House naked.
Or maybe we could go clean up a stream.
Earth Day’s Eve, FRIDAY, April 21
You’ll want to rest up on Friday for Saturday’s early-morning duties, but if you find yourself at liberty with a live Internet connection, you can hear what the experts say about this season’s freaky tornadoes. Earth Day Network will host a live Web chat with leading climate-change researchers from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere. Only high school and college students and teachers can ask questions, but everyone else can listen in. 10 a.m.-noon PDT at www.earthday.net.
SATURDAY, April 22
Saturday’s the big day, so grab your rubber gloves and take the Metro Blue Line down to Compton Creek, where Heal the Bay will lead the charge to clear the “sad calling card of trash and debris” from the ailing waterway that drains into the Los Angeles River. Heal the Bay provides everything you need plus tunes and free food, but bring your own binoculars: You’ll see cool birds amid the blight. Crystal Park Casino Hotel, 123 E. Artesia Blvd., Compton; 10 a.m.; free. (800) HEAL-BAY, Ext. 116. Rain cancels.
Also on big Earth Day Saturday, California State Parks invites volunteers to plant trees, clear trash from beaches and help maintain trails at any one of five local state parks, including Malibu Lagoon, Pio Pico and Topanga. Duties and meeting times vary by park. Visit www.calparks.org or call the Earth Day hot line at (888) 98-PARKS.
If you don’t feel like getting your fingernails dirty, spend Earth Day rallying against toxic-metal contamination by hauling your neighborhood’s old electronic equipment down to Toyota’s U.S. sales headquarters, where SoCal Computer Recyclers Inc. will be holding its Seventh Annual Earth Day Recycling Roundup. Anything with a plug and a circuit board qualifies, but don’t try to unload your old Cuisinarts and Aeron chairs. 19001 S. Western Ave., Torrance; 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; free. (310) 626-8180.
At night, DejaDesign, L.A.’s “recovered element” design studio, will host a party to launch “Off the Wall 2” the gallery’s second exhibition of Eco-LogicalART, made from recycled billboard vinyl (which curator Peter Schulberg wants to keep out of the landfills). 4823 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; 6-11 p.m.; free. (310) 525-0676.
SUNDAY, April 23
Don’t expect any fights to break out over the nuclear power–vs.–global warming puzzle at “Chernobyl, 20 Years After,” a conference on humankind’s worst nuclear-power-plant disaster held at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment. The speakers, who include Daniel Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, Angelina Galiteva of the World Council on Renewable Energy and Rochelle Becker of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, hail from the antinuke camp. But everyone pondering the merits of carbon-free nuclear power as a cure for what warms us needs to hear from the folks who have pondered its considerable, and terrifying, risks. Fun, huh? UCLA’s La Kretz Hall Auditorium; 2-5 p.m.; free. (213) 689-9170.
If you find atomic horror too depressing and you don’t have a baby-sitter anyway, consider spending Sunday at Eco Station’s Children’s Earth Day, where there’ll be games, entertainment, food, celebrities and creekside nature talks. 10101 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City; 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; free. (310) 842-8060 or www.ecostation.org. Later, you can dump the babes off somewhere and go to a screening of the film Nobelity to benefit the Green Belt Movement and Amnesty International. Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai will be on hand, along with Ted Danson, Jeff Goldblum and the filmmaker Turk Pipkin. Cary Grant Theater, Sony Pictures Studios, 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; 5 p.m.; $50 screening, $150 screening and private reception; visit www.nobelitythemovie.com/invite.
MONDAY, April 24
Earth Day–wise, not much going on today. Turn off your lights when you don’t need them, ride your bike to work, and scour your local beach for cigarette butts, which last even longer than vinyl billboards.
TUESDAY, April 25
If you’re a creative type who carps about how political art sucks but does nothing about it, take the three-and-a-half-hour Artists’ Bus Tour with the intrepid defenders of the Ballona Wetlands and scan for ideas among the willows and sea. The tour is free, but you’re expected to produce a drawing, a painting or a song to sell at upcoming Ballona fund-raisers. Departure at 11:15 a.m. from Culver Events (bring a sketchpad and camera), 11924 W. Washington Blvd., L.A. (a half-block west of the San Diego Freeway). Lunch will be served at the top of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (spectacular views). Return to Culver Events promptly at 3 p.m.; free. Reservations and information, (310) 721-3512.
WEDNESDAY, April 26
Fact: If we didn’t run our rainwater into the ocean, the city of Los Angeles would have to buy a lot less water from fewer places. How much less depends on who’s talking, but Brad Lancaster, author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, can tell you how to make the most of it at a talk hosted by the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network. Los Angeles Eco-Village, 117 Bimini Pl., L.A.; 7:30 p.m.; free. (805) 962-2571.
THURSDAY, April 27
Santa Monica College student Sai Duhamel and the city of Santa Monica join forces for a talk on sustainable packaging called “Cutting Waste and Cleaning Our Coastline.” Just say no to Styrofoam! Santa Monica College Bundy Campus, 3171 S. Bundy Dr., Santa Monica; 6:45 p.m.; free. (310) 434-4743.