April 22nd, 2008
02:39 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Brought to you by the color green

Erica Hill
360° Correspondent

Talk about a busy Tuesday!

Yes, we are all over the Pennsylvania primary – I’m looking forward to the outcome tonight. It is also Earth Day, and if you feel like everyone is pushing green lately, my completely unscientific poll of advertising I’ve seen finds you are correct. I’m talking “green” in every sense of the word – low emission vehicles, fluorescent light bulbs, biodegradable refills for your diaper pail (check), tips on composting, conserving, reusing, and the color green is everywhere. Clothes, shoes, perfume, jewelry.. green is clearly in.

I think it’s great – but I hope this green push will show some results…and I mean results beyond Earth Day.

One area where results are desperately needed: the global food shortage. The news gets worse everyday. CNN.com has put together a fantastic portal on the crisis, and I encourage you to check it out.

The food shortage is an important reminder of how we are all linked in this world, whether people realize it – or for some, whether they want to admit it – or not.
For three decades, prices for staples like wheat, corn and soy haven’t changed much. Why the sudden jolt in prices? There are a few reasons… many of which are connected to this planet we all share.

First, there’s the weather – droughts have hit many areas hard, while other regions are dealing with the impact of severe flooding and a changing climate. The earth’s population is growing, so demand is up. Add to that a shift in what land is being used for – less food crops, more biofuels being grown – and the outlook can be scary.

Here in the US, ethanol could account for 30 percent of the nation’s total corn crop in less than two years, leaving much less land for food crops, which in turn pushes prices up.

Worldwide, leaders are calling for more biofuel crops to be grown at home, rather than in developing countries, so that land can be used for food crops in the areas with the most immediate needs. Will it solve the crisis? It could be a step in the right direction, and as we all know, a small step can lead to very big things.

So what about you, are you taking any small steps this Earth Day? Or is there another cause you’re committed to? Does this push to be “green” have an impact on you, or is it just a passing fad?

I’d love to hear your comments and will be checking in this afternoon – thanks in advance!

Filed under: Erica Hill
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Gabriella Adams

    it is of course wise to always use recycled products because you can always help the environment :":

    December 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  2. Eve Reid

    my family always go for recycled products because you can help the environment ".

    September 14, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  3. Michael, Huntington Beach, CA

    Hi Erica,
    Time Magazine had an excellent story on their cover by Michael Grunwald (Apr 7, 2008 – The Clean Energy Myth) that detailes the global disaster being created by diverting food crops to ethanol production. It's a chain reaction 'ripple' effect driven by economics that
    has actually increased gobal warming in an unexpected way, as well as causing a global food crisis. To paraphrase a small part of this in depth article; the diversion of corn to ethanol production in the US (and elsewhere, to be fair) has caused the price of corn to skyrocket. Soybean farmers have converted over to growing corn, due to the profitability. This drives up the price of soybeans, so farmers in Brazil start taking over cattle grazing land to grow soybeans. Cattle farmers clear the rainforest to create more grazing land for cattle. Clearing the rainforest, by burning the plants and trees releases huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere causing huge increases in global warming. Corn and soybeans are so expensive that people are starving in 3rd world contries. To make matters worse, the Bush administration has mandated a fivefold increase in Ethanol production over the next decate, and are subsidizing the farmers (Farmers have a strong lobby in Washington).

    The sad story here is that people in the US don't read like they used to, so probably won't educate themselves about the Global problem with corn ethanol unless Anderson Cooper, Lou Dobbs and Larry King pick up the story and run with it in a series of 'special reports'.
    Ask a Presidential Candidate; they too haven't educated themselves and still support biofuels from food crops.

    In an amazing Irony to your post about the global food crises, CNN took out a full page ad in Time Magazine (March 24,2008) promoting the CNN 'Solutions' segments, and profiles a Texas company developing produciion of biofuel from Algae. Of course, Algae does not require that you use cropland since it grows in water; and so would not negatively impact food production. If enough public awareness is raised, perhaps an effort to grow Algae for fuel and leave food crops for food might actually gain traction against the lobbies of the farmers and the oil companies.

    It seems that there is an opportunity for you to make a difference in the World (as various units of CNN have done so many times) for Earth Day this year.

    What seems to be lacking is for someone within CNN to bring together the producers of 'Solutions" and shows such as "Planet in Peril", "AC360", "Larry King", "Lou Dobbs", and hard News shows, gain Executive support to champion this cause, and make a priority of putting (and keeping) this issue on the front burner; educating the World, giving it the importance and emphasis that it deserves; whjile challenging our political candidates to address this issue during this election year.

    I recently toured your Atlanta headquarters, and was impressed by the people of CNN and their dedication to their craft. I challenge you to pick this one up and run with it. Perhaps you could be that "someone". It would be a sure winner for all of us!

    Your feedback is welcome.

    Thanks for reading !

    April 23, 2008 at 5:24 am |
  4. Annie Kate

    Hi Erica!

    At my house we recycle; we bought cloth bags to bring home our groceries when we shop so we don't have to use paper or plastic, we combine trips out in the car so we don't use as much gas plus our car gets good mileage, we have changed all our light bulbs to the new CFL bulbs,we donate to organizations like Wildlife Direct, NRDC, Conservation International, etc. The environment is one of our top priorities and we worry about the rising food prices and the dwindling fresh water on the planet. Clean fresh water is a precious commodity and I'm not sure we as a nation are doing enough to guard our sources of it as well as we ought to especially in places like the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia and Kentucky. This issue is one that I hope the next President will have near the top of their agenda if not at the very top – I'd like to have a planet to hand on to future generations that will support them and dazzle them with its beauty and not make their daily life a hardship.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 22, 2008 at 9:56 pm |
  5. Jen in Mex.

    As I always told my kids, we can do it the nice way or....
    I guess oil pricing out at 180.00 a barrel is the not nice way.
    We are going to stop driving because we can't afford to drive.
    Right now we have choices. How much longer we will have that last luxury?

    April 22, 2008 at 9:52 pm |
  6. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    I do see more hybrids lately, although most people where I live drive SUV's and even Hummers! I think we all could do more, much more.
    As far as I'm concerned Green has always been "in." Being Irish, we have a great love for the emerald idea...green lifestyle and green sweaters..Shamrocks optional. Happy Earth Day.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    April 22, 2008 at 9:50 pm |
  7. Jan Ives

    Hi, Erica!!! (You rock mine & my husband's world, by the way:) )

    RE: your question to us on "going green", I have replaced all of my regular lightbulbs with those goofy looking curly lightbulbs; I save my grungy dog bowl water to water my house plants; we shred paperwork with our personal info & recycle ALL paper, paper bags, etc. It doens't sound like much, but it will actually make a difference in the long run! I remember (& celebrated) the original "Earth Day", & have honored it every year since!!!

    Sure wish they'd make solar panels, wind turbines, & electric cars more affordable for regular folks like me, & not just Ed Begley, Jr.'s! 🙂

    Have a great night as part of "the greatest news team" on TV!!!


    April 22, 2008 at 8:09 pm |
  8. Matt

    When "Earth Day" starts to be sponsored by the very same corporations that are responsible for ruining the environment in the first place, well, something is wrong.

    Hopefully earth day can be more than a once a year token gesture to make ourselves feel good about "going green". Will people drive less and eat less? Take a bus once in a while? Spend a few extra pennies on products made from recyclables?

    Does anyone out there grow even a small percentage of the food they eat??

    April 22, 2008 at 7:14 pm |
  9. Megan Dresslar

    I want say Happy Earth Day ! I am wearing green today. Thanks Erica!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    April 22, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
  10. Heather

    I spent about two hours today recycling plastic,aluminum and glass beverage containers. It made me think about how every time I go and get my five cents each back wouldnt it be great if we could recycle everthing for money. I know those big plastic laundry detergant containers would be great to recycle .I ask people everytime I go use those machines if they would recycle more if they could get money for it. They say yes everytime. We could recycle old phonebooks and magazines. Paper and empty aerosol cans.I know when people drop off used batteries that they get paid for our batteries by the companies that picks them up. I just know people would recycle more if they could get paid like with soda cans etc. We need to develop a infastructure in this country so people can do it.

    April 22, 2008 at 6:32 pm |
  11. Genevieve M, TX

    I love the part of your post title that says "brought to you by the color green". It's very much "Sesame Street" in style.

    Ah yes, the food shortage....I found something out about rice. The US grows a large portion of the world's rice crop, but we export most of it. For example- there is a specific type of rice that is used in making sushi. It is grown in California and exported to Asian countries- most of it anyway. Meanwhile, this country has a shortage of that crop.

    The only reason this caught my attention was because of a sign in my local Costco store limiting the number of bags rice to one per account daily. I don't consume enough rice to warrent purchasing a large bag, but I thought the sign was odd so I inquired about it. The manager said it was due to a nationwide shortage of rice and that their vendor only had limited quantities available. Incredible, huh?

    April 22, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  12. Ruby Coria, LA., CA.

    Hello Erica, happy green day to you n the crew., I wonder does it take more energy to do all this primary coverage? I'll turn off my t.v for now and see you tonight.

    April 22, 2008 at 6:25 pm |
  13. Alexander

    Hey there, Erica. Personally, I always try to recycle and take as much care of the surrounding environment, etc., if I can. I noticed you mentioned previously that you are yourself environmentally conscious. That's good. And I don't mean that in a casual sense. Considering how many people there are on this earth, it's very important for people to understand how their impact on the environment in which they live also impacts themselves and their futures, both for themselves and future generations. For me, this is not some sort of passing fad. It's a shame, actually, that only at certain points in time are people more aware of their impact on the surrounding and global environment. That's my two cents. : )

    April 22, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  14. Marcia

    Hi Erica,

    Let's see CFL bulbs in all the light fixtures. Shop at Whole Foods or local farmers' market for organic vegetables and use a reusable shopping bag – Whole Foods gives you .10 every time you bring it in. Phosphate free laundry detergent and dish washing liquid. Joined Seventh Generation to get coupons for environmentally safe household products and walk where ever we can

    Happy Earth Day to all at 360.

    April 22, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  15. Susan


    I am a member of the Young Friends of the Brandywine River. It is an organization that is part of the Brandywine River Museum in
    Chadds Ford,PA. Twice a year volunteers pick up trash along the banks of the Brandywine River. We just did it again this past Saturday.
    There was not as much this year, maybe that is a good thing. We also do tree plantings on land ( which is owned and managed ) by the Brandywine Conservency. It is called the Laurel Preserves. It serves as a habitat for many birds and lots of other critters. The Conservency supports open space and has a lot of land under easements.

    Have fun covering our primary tonite!!!!!!!


    P.S. Not so young anymore

    April 22, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  16. Tammy

    I asked my high school students today to write in their journals about Earth Day and what they did to help the environment. They had no clue what they day was (so it became an educable moment). Most had no idea how to help the environment (another educable moment). I was floored at how many said they didn't care about it. I told them when resources are gone, they are gone for good in many cases. It sort of made them think. I hope. They don't realize in two weeks they get to watch all of Planet in Peril and write a cause and effect essay based on a segment from the series and research beyond what the series covers. It scares me what parents and some teachers aren't teaching about environmental issues or modeling in their own lives.

    Personally, I buy organic whenever possible. I drive a car that has super high gas mileage (my next one will be a hybrid). I plant and garden organically (when I have time to plant and garden). I conserve energy in my house. I buy recycled products when possible. I support animal conservation efforts. I carpool when possible. And I push saving Mum Earth whenever I have a captive audience (like my students).

    Growing foods in third world countries is great, feeding those most in need is great, and growing crops for biofuels is great. However, does cutting the supply down here for food mean our food prices are going to go higher? And will the governments of these third world countries allow this food to go to its most need or try to sell it off for a profit? For many of these leaders, the most poor are considered subhuman anyway and not in need of help (including food or escaping poverty). Just random thoughts.

    Kermit the Frog said it best. "It's not easy being green." I'll leave on that thought.

    April 22, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  17. jes from Canada

    Hi Erica, Happy Earth Day!! Last night you mentioned you had roots in Canada. I would be proud & happy to WELCOME you to Canada!! Do you every visit our beautiful country?

    April 22, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  18. Lilibeth

    Hi Erica, glad I caught your blog today. Here in the Seattle area, we're pretty conscious about the environment. We already use the special light bulbs at home. Also, our washer recently broke, so my husband and I bought the "High Efficiency" kind, which uses less water and less power. We also plan to buy a hybrid car in the future...right now the car we have just keeps on running and running, so no need to replace it just yet. We also recycle all our newspapers, bottles, cans, and plastics. We also have a separate container for yard waste. Yes, there are a lot of little things people can do on a daily basis, and it all adds up.

    Thanks, Erica! See you tonight!

    Edmonds, Washington

    April 22, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  19. Larry

    When was the last time that the Earth was green?

    April 22, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  20. Renee


    Maybe CNN should start pressuring grocery stores to stop throwing food away and donating this food to the homeless. In some states there are laws to protect the restaurants and groceries from being sued when donating food. In others there are not. I think it will take a "global shift" to conserve and grow locally.

    One of the things you can do is google "Earth Boxes." There is a company near me that ships these boxes all over the US. In an "earth box" you can grow about anything even on your terrace in NYC. They cost about $50 or so and trust me when I ask, "do you like tomatoes?" Because if you do, you will get about 100 large ones growing in these boxes even in NYC.

    April 22, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  21. Jennifer - Michigan

    Hi Erica,
    We've been green here for a while now. I've been re-using shopping bags for grocery shopping at Krogers for a year now. It's great, they pay you 5 cents per bag when you bring them in. I use the same bags over and over. They are giving out some real nice black canvas bags in honor of earth day also. We heat our house with a wood-burning furnace. We use wood from our property – saving save so much by using less natural gas. Going green is great! See you tonight.

    April 22, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  22. David in Huntsville, Alabama

    Erica. I find the whole thing a little crazy. Here we are on Earth Day, talking about doing 'green' while in Pennsylvania folks drive to vote because the most technological country in the world can't figure out how to vote on line. More and more people of the world are going hungry for lack of food partially because a huge subsidy is being paid as our government declared 'CORN' is the way to go rather than let market forces choose the most economical and ecological choice.

    Many speeches will be given today by the same people who seem to do everything they can with their legislative efforts to keep the nation dependent upon oil. These same 'leaders' will fly freely from place to place, meeting with others who similarly flew in, eat well and tell each other how much they help the 'green' effort.

    Serious attention to the problems seems to be absent from most speech. What beyond a quick bit of nothingness have the candidates said. What beyond total nothingness has the media asked them about their plans. I'm sorry Erica, I simply will not be drawn into this one day hype.

    So, tomorrow I will forget all about this. I will go back to my recycling as much as possible. I will minimize the number of trips with the car. I must use the car as my city does hot have much in the way of public transportation – we just love our gas guzzlers too much! I will continue to replace light bulbs with the newer efficient ones as they burn out. I will turn off lights when not needed and take showers rather than baths. I will continue to try, just try to save in any little way I can. For I think that is the answer. Not the special days, not the speeches, not the hype but rather each of us just trying to do our part.

    Thanks for listening, David in Huntsville, Alabama

    April 22, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  23. Bill in Nebraska


    In my family we take Earth day into mind everyday. In the last 20 years since CFL bulbs have been around we have used them. In the beginning it was hard to use them when they were $12 each. But, over the years we have saved thousands of dollars on our electric bill. We just upgraded all of our fridge/freezer, stove, micro, dish washer, washer and dryer, as well as furnace and am getting ready to go to instahot water heaters.

    Yes it cost us a lot of money the last year to do all of this but we have already seen our electric bill go down another $30 per month because of it. For those who don't know, at one point in our house we were using over 300 kw per day. Now we are down to under 25 kw per day. Now that is some saving on everything plus the enviroment.

    We also have gone to only driving when we have to other than work. It is now $40 to fill our highest MPG car and over $70 to fill my mini-van. So now it is time to walk to the store and cook at home more and start to grow our own veggies etc. We are even stopping using plastic bags except for garbage because our garbage company out here won't take your garbage unless it is in a clear plastic bag.

    But yes we do try to do everything we can to lessen our foot print. I am even looking into solar now.

    Keep up the good work and smile lots Erica. Life is hard but when it gets that way just think about that little bundle of joy you have at home, and the kid ain't bad either... LOL...

    April 22, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  24. Michael, NC

    Plant a tree! Thats what I did this morning. Erica, I am glad that you are spreading Earth awareness. And you are right, it needs to be more than just Earth DAY, we need to make it every day.
    In sociology, we often talk of the food shortages and other concerns overseas and in our own beautiful nation, it is sad and disheartening.
    But let us use today to turn it around and make a change in our world for the better!

    April 22, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  25. John from Oregon

    I try to recycle everything that I can and that was something pretty much unheard of 10 years ago. So I think we are headed in a good direction.

    Mostly focused on PA today to see if Obama can land the knock out punch.

    I will be watching tonight and I hope to see you.

    You look great in a sweater!

    April 22, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  26. Stacy

    Erica, you've written about the growing food crisis a few times now and I'm wondering if there are any plans to cover the topic on 360, expanding on the points you just blogged. It's certainly worthy of the airtime and I would love to see the subject further explored for a wider audience.

    April 22, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  27. Kristien,Antwerp, Belgium

    Hey Erica,

    I think a special day to celebrate our Planet is absolutely a great idea, but I do hope that in the future we won't need this day to remind people that we need to take care of Mother Nature!

    Seeing Al Gore's film is what got me started and I try to do as much as I can. Having said that, I do know that I could do more (I drive to work every day), but everyone has to start somewhere, right!
    Small things like taking a canvas carrier bag with you when you go shopping may not sound like a big thing, but if everyone did that, it could become a huge thing!

    The only thing you can't make me do is wear green clothes, it's not my colour, ;p.

    I hope you won't OD on Primary results tonight!

    Take care, Kristien

    April 22, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  28. xtina, chicago IL

    Erica – I agree with the society in general becoming ecologically-minded. But I don't like the idea of the federal government mandating all of these. There's enough people who will go "green" without some Climate Change Police coming over to my house to make sure I have compact light bulbs and paper sacks and a low emission car. And for the love of God please don't vote to tax me if I don't do all of these things!

    April 22, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  29. Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada

    I totally did not plan it this way but I wore a green sweater today. Got to love Earth Day!!!!

    April 22, 2008 at 2:59 pm |

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