When I first saw Stanley Kramer's 1959 movie, On The Beach, I was living on the East Coast and had no idea what San Francisco looked like. However, a few years ago, I decided to TiVo the film to see how well it stood the test of time.
In particular, I wanted to watch the scenes in which the submarine Sawfish surfaced in San Francisco Bay. As they look through the periscope, the crew can see the empty streets of San Francisco's financial district where there are no moving vehicles or signs of human life.
Why not? By that point, every creature in North America has succumbed to nuclear radiation. Once a thriving port city, San Francisco has become a ghost town whose hills lack their legendary hustle and bustle.
The tragic news coming from Japan has led many media outlets to speculate on worst case scenarios for the future of northern Japan. One scenario predicts that an area around Fukushima as large as several Northeastern states could become a totally uninhabitable "dead zone." Another theorizes what might happen if a radioactive cloud drifted north to Sapporo (population 1.9 million) or south and southwest toward:
Further to the west lie Korea and China, with millions more. The following newsclip, shows what downtown Melbourne looked like after being evacuated for a scene in On The Beach.
With Republicans doing their very best to roll back every advance ever made in the pursuit of environmental protection, it's hard not to look out at San Francisco Bay and think about the horror that might have been. Although the brunch I'm thinking about took place nearly 35 years ago, I remember the moment with frightening clarity.
I was sitting with some friends who were entertaining visitors from Los Angeles when one of the Los Angelenos smugly stated "You people here in San Francisco are crazy. You should just level all of those hills and build out into the Bay!"
Having only arrived in San Francisco in 1972 and been awed by the beauty of the local topography, I was shocked by the woman's callous disregard for nature. What I did not know was that, in the 1950s and 1960s, developers were desperately trying to reclaim land with such a frenzy that San Francisco Bay might have been reduced to a shadow of its former glory.
Written by Miles Saunders and produced by Ron Blatman (with some stunning cinematography by Kit Tyler), Saving the Bay is not your typical nature documentary. While it examines the geological changes that have shaped San Francisco Bay from the last Ice Age until the present, it also focuses on the Bay's unfortunate years of exploitation as people thoughtlessly dumped all kinds of garbage and sewage into its waters.
Hailed as the second most important estuary in the United States (after Chesapeake Bay), San Francisco Bay has continually made history. Did you know that:
Narrated by Robert Redford, Saving The Bay chronicles man's impact on San Francisco Bay over the past 350 years. It covers a period from when the Bay area boasted a wealth of untouched marshes and wetlands to the Bay's transformation into a world-class port for container ships. Most important, it shows how the efforts of three pioneering and well-connected women to save San Francisco Bay transformed the region -- and our nation -- into a more environmentally conscious society. Saving The Bay consists of the following four one-hour segments:
To coincide with Earth Week, Saving the Bay will be broadcast nationally in prime time on PBS beginning Wednesday evening April 20, 2011 at 10pm and continuing for the next three Wednesday evenings. Here's the official trailer:
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