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CNN Today

Earth Day 2000: Julia Butterfly Hill Discusses 'The Legacy of Luna'

Aired April 21, 2000 - 1:43 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: It is Earth Day tomorrow, and what have you done for the planet lately? recycled a few cans perhaps? Well, how's this for commitment? Julia Butterfly Hill sat in a threatened redwood tree for two years. She named the tree "Luna" and has written a book about her tree-sitting experience. The book is called "The Legacy of Luna."

Well, of course, we talked to Hill when she was sitting in her treetop, but she joins us now, today, from our studio in Los Angeles.

You're looking a lot healthier there, Hi.

JULIA BUTTERFLY HILL, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: Hello.

HALL: I want to ask you a question, so many of us wish that we had the personal integrity to stay to stay committed to the commitments that we make. What was the singular personal passion issue that allowed you to stay in that tree for that long?

HILL: I believe a lot of what helped encourage me to stay for 738 days in this over 1,000-year-old redwood tree to keep it from being cut down was that I could see everything I stand for and everything I stand against in one spot. I could see the beauty of the ancient forest and I could also see the burnt, destroyed clear cuts caused by Pacific Lumber Maxxam Corporation.

HALL: But you endured such personal sacrifice in order to do it. I'm not sure that most people are willing to do that for a cause, nevertheless the cause of the environment. What would you like to say to people as we approach Earth Day for tomorrow?

HILL: Well, what I think is, that I tell people that if each and every one of us will wake up every single day and say what can I do today to make the world a better place? what can I do in my personal life? can I stop using paper and styrofoam cups everywhere I go? can I carry around a mug with me? can I bring my own container into restaurants? can I bring my own cloth bag into the grocery store? can I get in my car less? can I use alternative transportation? can I encourage others to be passionate about a cause? am I willing to write my congresspeople and demand that my voice be heard? That if we do that each and every single day, I believe that's where our own personal tree sit is for every one of us. HALL: But does individual action really have a tangible impact on the environment or is it really trying to co-opt businesses and corporations to be good corporate citizens? will that have more of an impact?

HILL: I think we have to do everything. We have to be in the halls of government demanding justice. We do not see justice for social and environment issues these days. When it comes to corporate money, that profit is placed above life, every single time. So we have to be in the halls of justice, we have to be constantly standing up and speaking out for each other and for this planet. We have to be willing to put our bodies on the lines. Not everybody is able to or willing to do, but if we have the energy, if we have the opportunity, yes, we have to do that.

But I believe, I look at it like our hands. As we point at the corporations and the governments that are doing things wrong, we have to realize that there is three fingers pointing back. And I realize those fingers as power, responsibility and love. We have the power to change the world because every single thing we do and say changes the world. We have the responsibility that because we have the power, we have to use that power to make the world a better place, not to destroy the air and the water and the planet and the species on it in future generations. And we have the love, which for me is the third finger, that we have to do everything we can, and that coming from a place of love, doing everything we know how, yes, we will create a world where every day is honored as an Earth Day.

I compare Earth Day to Valentine's Day. We know that we love and cherish people in our life, but sometimes society is so busy and so hectic that we forget to remember to tell people or show them how much we love them. Earth Day is our reminder, like Valentine's Day, to remember to love this planet that loves us, that gives us so much every day.

HALL: Julia Butterfly Hill, we thank you for your insight and we thank you for your commitment.

HILL: Thank you so much.

HALL: Happy Earth Day.

HILL: And to you and to us all.

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