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Organizers of today's Earth Day observances have called for "A Billion Acts of Green" — small, individual things they say can add up to big improvements in the health of the planet. We take a broader perspective, with recent assessments of the health of the oceans, the state of biodiversity and the impact of climate change. Also, new pessimism on the economy, and a US Ambassador resigns after the State Department tells him not to advocate "faith-based diplomacy."

Banner image: A woman wears a face mask in Beijing on December 1, 2010. China has met its 2010 target to cut emissions of key pollutants and is on track to meet its energy efficiency goal, state media said, quoting the country's top climate change official as saying after China last week acknowledged it had become the world's biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases that are blamed for climate change and global warming, surpassing the United States, though not in terms of emissions per capita. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Making News Poll Finds New Pessimism on Economy 7 MIN, 49 SEC

The latest poll by the New York Times and CBS News shows that the recent upsurge in public confidence in economic recovery is "now all but gone." The survey is rich with political implications. Jim Rutenberg co-wrote today's report in the Times.

Jim Rutenberg, New York Times (@jimrutenberg)

Main Topic Earth Day: Past, Present and Future 35 MIN, 7 SEC

LakeGruyere.jpgIt's Good Friday, Passover is still underway, and it's also what some call the high holiday of the environmental movement. Now observed in 192 countries, Earth Day was founded in the United States 41 years ago, by Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson and Republican Congressman Pete McClosky. But the original Washington-based bipartisanship is a thing of the past, and environmental science is under assault from interests that oppose regulations they say will kill jobs and raise energy costs. On this 41st Earth Day we leave partisanship for another day and get some mainstream assessments of the health of the planet and how it can be improved.

Photo: A boat on the dried shores of Lake Gruyere, affected by continuous drought near the western Switzerland village of Avry-devant-Pont. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Mike Hirshfield, Oceana
Tom Lovejoy, George Mason University
Carter Roberts, World Wildlife Fund
Barbara Finamore, Natural Resources Defense Council

Reporter's Notebook Ambassador's Promotion of Interfaith Dialogue Falls Flat at Foggy Bottom 8 MIN, 39 SEC

He was in the Justice Department under George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, and was a strong advocate for impeaching former President Bill Clinton. But in 2008, he became a prominent conservative Republican for Democrat Barack Obama. After Obama's election, Doug Kmiec, a devout Catholic, was appointed Ambassador to Malta, a Catholic country. When he was sworn in, he was introduced by the head of the President's Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership Program. Now, the President has accepted Kmiec's resignation, which he submitted after the State Department demanded that he stop pushing a faith-based agenda.

Douglas Kmiec, Pepperdine University (@dougkmiec)

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