20 Years Ago: 4-16-93 — Earth Day TV special forecasts natural disasters turn U.S into wasteland by 2017

Though we still have four years to go, TV has ironically become the wasteland.

Read the news article below.


Mother Nature Strikes Back In a Global Warming Caveat
April 16, 1993, Chicago Sun-Times

THE FIRE NEXT TIME (STAR) (STAR) A CBS mini-series on WBBM-Channel 2, 8 to 10 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday.

America’s future looks brown and bleak in “The Fire Next Time,” an apocalyptic vision of global warming in the 21st century.

Timed to coincide with Earth Week observances stressing environmental awareness and corrective actions, the desolate CBS mini-series will begin its alarming sermon at 8 p.m. Sunday on WBBM-Channel 2. The two-part, four-hour fable will conclude from 8 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, two days before Earth Day.

Ten years ago, an estimated 38.5 million households tuned into ABC’s “The Day After,” a gloom-and-doom projection of American life after a nuclear war. Now, with the threat of missiles and fallout receding, “The Fire Next Time” raises the specter of natural disasters turning the United States into a wasteland by the year 2017.

Killer hurricanes devastate the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The Midwest suffers through a six-year drought. Carbon-fuel restrictions limit travel by drivers and airline passengers. Los Angeles chokes on the smoke of 2,000 fires surrounding the city. Hospitals ration air conditioning. Canada closes its borders to U.S. refugees. Alaskans vote to secede from their country.

A doomsday cultist who worships Mother Earth as a single, giant organism says the planet is defending itself by destroying its human attackers. “The Earth doesn’t belong to us, any more than it did to the dinosaurs,” he says. “We’re just guests.” Others recall the biblical prophecy of the ultimate fire that would follow the ancient flood from Noah’s time.

Director Tom McLoughlin, writer-producer James Henerson and executive producer Robert Halmi try to emphasize the human aspects of the ecological horrors by concentrating on the struggles and suffering of the Morgan family from Louisiana. Despite earnest efforts by Craig T. Nelson as father Drew, a self-reliant Gulf shrimper, and Bonnie Bedelia as mother Suzanne, a science teacher with conflicting loyalties, their dramatic odyssey staggers and finally collapses under the burden of sincere but heavy-handed messages.

Drew’s 78-year-old father (Richard Farnsworth) represents the dying remains of his pre-Baby Boom generation when he tells his son: “I gave you nothin’ except a lot of lousy advice, like: ‘There’s plenty more where this came from.’ There used to be a bumper sticker folks put on their fancy cars: ‘We’re spending our kids’ inheritance.’ We were different. We were the last ones who had a chance to get this stopped.”

“The Fire Next Time” offers little hope with fascist alternatives like the town of Golden, the “no-growth capital of the Northeast” in upstate New York, which instructs visitors: “Take a look at Paradise. Then go home.”

Two nights of misery can be hard to take, even when the cause is right. Maybe that’s the point. It always seems easier to avoid troubling thoughts. But serious problems can’t be turned off like a television program.

2 thoughts on “20 Years Ago: 4-16-93 — Earth Day TV special forecasts natural disasters turn U.S into wasteland by 2017”

  1. I missed the show, but I seem to recall that we are having continuous warnings of pending ecological doom “in the next few years” for longer than 20 years. For all the doom and gloom forecasts I don’t seem to recall one happening.

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