Earth Talk:

Who are the pro-environment celebrities?

By Roddy Scheer
Leonardo DiCaprio is known for environmental activism.
Leonardo DiCaprio is known for environmental activism.
Photo: 20th Century Fox, 'The Revenant.'

Dear EarthTalk: Who are some of the greener movie stars out there today and what are they doing to fight for the planet?

      -- Stacey DiGiorno, Chevy Chase, Maryland

     While a handful of Hollywood A-listers—Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Ed Begley Jr., to name a few—have been actively campaigning for the environment for decades, a new wave of green celebrities is using star power to help persuade millions of fans around the world to live greener lifestyles and speak up for environmental protections and climate mitigation. 
     Leonardo DiCaprio continues to distinguish himself as one of the greenest stars out there. He started the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998 with the mission of protecting the world’s last wild places and has since channeled millions of dollars in grants toward direct-action initiatives and awareness-raising campaigns all over the world. His 2007 documentary, The 11th Hour, features interviews with a variety of leaders and luminaries discussing the grave environmental problems facing the planet’s life systems, and his 2016 film, Before The Flood, focuses on the environmental impacts of global warming on different locales around the world. Last December, DiCaprio met with Donald Trump, then president-elect, to discuss the importance of the U.S. remaining committed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and honoring its commitments as part of 2015’s Paris climate agreement. 
    Another big star who has gone green is Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator earned his environmental cred during his years as California’s governor when he shepherded legislation through a hostile state legislature establishing the most stringent emissions reduction mandates in the nation. He also issued executive orders to up the energy-efficiency requirements for existing and new state government buildings. He helped pave the way for the introduction of automobiles powered with emissions-free fuel cells by building the beginnings of a hydrogen refueling network across California. Schwarzenegger has been outspoken about the need for state and local governments to take the lead in the battle against global warming—a message that resonates now that Trump, a climate-change denier, is in the White House. 
    Mark Ruffalo may have played The Hulk in Marvel Comics’ Avengers movies for good reason: He’s pretty green—and resource extractors don’t like him when he’s angry. The actor is outspoken against the environmental and health ills of fracking, a technique that recovers gas and oil from shale rock by drilling into the earth to direct a high-pressure water mixture at the rock to release the gas inside. He founded the nonprofit Water Defense in 2009 and later joined engineering professor Mark Jacobson, banker and solar executive Marco Krapels and filmmaker/activist Josh Fox to launch The Solutions Project, which aims to move the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy. Ruffalo has also been active alongside the Standing Rock Sioux in fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. 
    Some other movie stars for the environment include Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Daryl Hannah, Pierce Brosnan, Charlize Theron, Matt Dillon, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks and George Clooney. You can feel better about going to the movies now that you know the stars use some of the money they make at your expense to help the planet. 


    Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

    Water Defense

    Solutions Project


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