Eco Cartoons and the 1990s

Following the environmental disaster of Chernobyl, the grounding of the Exxon Valdez and the revelation that the Ozone layer above the Polar ice caps was gone and speeding up the process of global warming,  the focus of humans on Earth turned towards the environment. A thaw in the Cold War significantly reduced the threat of nuclear annihilation. Children were the new focus for being convinced about the danger of environmental damage, and programme-makers soon began to construct characters around the growing concern.

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As we were shown scenes of petroleum workers attempting to clean up disasters with Spill Kits. like those from it was clear that this was going to be an issue that would concern children. TV programmes were created to tap into this fear to reassure them that the growing concern was solvable. Sadly, many of them were just made to sell toys.

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Toxic Crusaders was based on the more adult Toxic Avenger from the notorious Troma films.  It featured a hero who had fallen into a vat of waste and gained superpowers. The most obvious were Captain Planet and Planeteers. The Planeteers all have a ring that, when combined, can summon the Captain to help them defeat a major villain. These were terrible guys determined to pollute the planet in some way. Names like Dr Blight, Duke Nukem and Looten Plunder illustrate how direct the eco-villains were. Ultimately, both shows were at great pains to say that it was down to the audience to make the real difference.

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