Too often when the public looks at an issue, they are too readily able to see only the negative. In all kinds of issues, from gender inequality to the environment, we often are willing to jump at the negatives, and never sit back and acknowledge the positives. While this is understandable in light of what may seem like and overwhelming and uphill fight, this post intends to rectify that, at least in some small way, for environmentalists. to acknowledge the blaring contributions the entertainment industry has made on the side of environmental conservation.
Take some of the A-list actors of today: Edward Norton, Leonardo DiCaprio, and my personal favorite, Harrison Ford. Edward Norton has had a passion for environmental conservation since he was young. The actor’s father instilled these passions in him when he was boy. His father was an environmental advocate for the Wilderness Society, and during his childhood, that mindset rubbed off on young Edward. He makes regular donations to groups like the Grand Canyon Trust, the Wilderness Society, and Earthjustice. These organizations rely mostly on donations to remain operational, and they are some of the leading environmental groups today.
Leonardo DiCaprio, at the age of 24, established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which works to protect some of the last wild places on earth, and attempts to create a more harmonious relationship between man and the natural world. His foundation has ramped up its grant awards in recent years, handing out over 10 million in grants to support the protection of fragile ecosystems around the world.
Finally, my personal favorite, Harrison Ford: a real life environmental renegade. In the Star Wars franchise, he plays a smuggler and pilot of the Millennium Falcon; the “scruffy-looking” scoundrel you can’t help but love. Whereas Norton and DiCaprio’s environmental assistance comes in the form of money, Harrison Ford literally takes to the skies for the environment. He is a registered pilot, and works with Riverkeeper, an environmental group that has been protecting the Hudson for over 6 decades, as their “eye-in-the-sky” so to speak. He patrols the Hudson in his helicopter, identifying potential polluters from the air. He has received awards for these actions, but this is only a small piece of his environmental contributions. He has donated large amounts of land, time, and money to the environmental movement, which likely would not be the same without his help.
The point of this post is to illustrate that those who may be the cause of environmental pollution – actors who directly or indirectly affect the environment – are not necessarily an enemy. Harrison Ford calls the fight for conservation a “war without an evil enemy.” While I do not believe that is always the case, I believe it is most of the time. Ultimately, we have to step back and acknowledge the successes, and positives in the light of an issue, not just the short-comings. The entertainment industry may directly or indirectly contribute to global warming and environmental issues, but they also do their fair share to give back. Without acknowledging success, it is easy to lose sight of the end goal, and become embittered for it.