To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Discovery’s Planet Green has announced 16 visionaries — people with big ideas that are shaping our world. Joining the likes of Moby, Philippe Cousteau and Stephen Dubner on the list is our very own CEO, Andy Sharpless.
Here’s an excerpt of Planet Green’s interview with Andy:
What accomplishment of the environmental movement over the past 40 years stands out to you?
I remember the first Earth Day. I was a student in Philadelphia and I went to an Earth Day concert where I was in high school. It is absolutely the case in the 40 years since then, environmental legislation in the US — pushed through by the environmental movement and its many supporters both in Congress and out in families of America — cleaned up the air and cleaned up the water in meaningful ways especially in American cities like the one I grew up in. The air is safer to breath and the rivers and the lakes are cleaner for the people who use them, and swim in them, boat on them, and fish out of them and for the creatures that live in them.
What should be the mission of the “green” movement for the next 40 years?
We need to remember the difference between talking about saving the world and actually saving the world. The desire that many people have for having the task of saving the world be easy, sometimes interferes with focusing on the concrete practical work associated with putting in place the policies like we did in the 70s with clean air and clean water that will deliver a healthier world.
We’ve got to keep our feet on the ground and be practical and actually be willing to trade off noble grandiose objectives for maybe less noble objectives that can actually be defined and be delivered on in a short period of time.