Photo: Before the Flood / YouTube
Celebrities have an uncanny way of grabbing our attention. Their latest films, appearances, fashion lines and business ventures attract media conglomerates like butterflies to an open field, so it’s always promising when there’s a distinct cause behind all the hoopla.
As climate change becomes a stronger threat, it seems those who can’t escape the limelight are using their fame and fortune to redirect our focus, and the idea of rising temperatures is garnering newfound consideration from Hollywood A-listers. Actor Bradley Whitford for example, who rose to fame on popular shows like
Actor Bradley Whitford for example, who rose to fame on popular shows like The West Wing and Happyish, recently tackled climate change in an episode of Years of Living Dangerously on National Geographic. In an hour-long segment, Whitford makes personal visits to disbelieving members of Congress, whom he says consistently ignore the big picture.
“It has somehow become this partisan football, which is really frustrating,” he explains. “The Republican Party is the only conservative party in the world who does not accept the science, so the question is then, what do you do? Do you go into a room and say, ‘You’re an idiot, what you’re doing is outrageous? Are you going to get anything done?’” Previous stars to pose questions about global warming on the program include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matt Damon and former
Previous stars to pose questions about global warming on the program include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matt Damon and former Late Show host David Letterman.
Citizens were taken aback by Donald Trump’s recent visit from Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio, whose work as an environmentalist led to the documentary Before the Flood. The actor also developed the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998, which has managed to accumulate nearly $60 million in grants for issues ranging from marine and wildland conservation to indigenous rights. DiCaprio’s meeting with Trump focused on climate change and green jobs, and came only days after the then President-elect met with former Vice-President Al Gore to discuss similar issues.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is also working to recruit several of his “billionaire friends” in the hope of putting together one of the largest funds for investing in clean energy innovation and fighting altered climates.
“Anything that leads to cheap, clean, reliable energy we’re open-minded to,” he mentions with an air of confidence.
Known as Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the fund holds a 20-year lifespan and looks to “invest in the commercialization of new technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Among those supporting the fund or serving on its board are Alibaba founder Jack Ma, SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner, and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani. The group boasts a net worth of nearly $200 billion.
“It’s such a big market that the value – if you’re really providing a big portion of the world’s energy – will be super, super big,” Gates exclaims. He estimates the global energy market could be worth as much as $6 trillion by the year 2040.
The attention celebrities are bringing to climate change has yielded some positive results. While some of Trump’s cabinet picks have certainly stirred controversy, the President met with DiCaprio again shortly before taking office, on the very same day he nominated Scott Pruitt, a climate denier and enemy of environmental regulations, to lead the EPA.
Trump now says human activity likely bears some effect on the global climate, and declares an “open mind” when it comes to the Paris Agreement. In addition, several of his newly-nominated cabinet members disagree with the soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief’s past verbiage, and say climate change is not a fable to be dismissed outright.
“I don’t believe it’s a hoax,” says Rep. Ryan Zinke, who Trump has picked to lead the Interior Department. “Climate is changing. Man has had an influence.”
Aside from protecting Arctic regions and pardoning Chelsea Manning in its final days, the Obama administration has announced a $500 million contribution to the UN Green Climate Fund, which is designed to relieve developing nations from global warming. It is the second major donation in over two years.
About 4,000 miles away, British heir to the throne Prince Charles has co-authored a book as part of the Ladybird Experts series first made popular in the 1960s and 70s. Entitled The Ladybird Introduction to Climate Change, it is a basic guide meant to inform young readers of the harsh consequences posed by altered temperatures. Copies are already on sale online and in bookstores.