Edward X. Young, Senior Staff Writer, SolarAccess.com News
February 27, 2004
While movie studios are "going for the gold" in preparation for Oscar Night, many movie stars are "going for the green." Motivated by their desire to preserve the environment and reduce petroleum dependence, more and more artists in the entertainment industry are using their fame to shine a spotlight on the potential of renewable energy technologies.
"I want to do the right thing for my family and the environment -- and I also want to set a positive example that my friends and colleagues at the film studios can follow."
- Daniel Acon, Special Effects Coordinator for "The Passion of The Christ"
Hollywood, California - February 27, 2004 [SolarAccess.com]
Actor, director, producer and Enterprise Foundation trustee, Edward Norton ("25th Hour," "Fight Club," "American History X") is one of the leaders of Hollywood's pack of proponents of solar power. Norton dedicates a large portion of his time and his website to helping to commercialize solar energy and other forms of renewable power generation.
"Solar energy holds enormous potential for society," said Norton, who through the Enterprise Foundation (a national nonprofit organization that provides assistance to grassroots homeownership organizations) helped create BP Solar Neighbors, a program designed to give low-income homeowners the opportunity to enjoy the cost-savings that come with solar energy.
The program works by inviting other celebrities to purchase the BP Solar Home Solution, which utilizes rooftop arrays to generate solar photovoltaic (PV) power for homes. Every time an invited star purchases a solar system, BP Solar installs a similar system on one of Enterprise's affordable homes in South Central Los Angeles. Actors Pierce Brosnan and Daryl Hannah have already signed up, and Enterprise and BP Solar hope to provide solar systems to 25 families in the program's first year.
Last year, Norton was honored for "his innovative work to promote the use of solar energy" by the Environmental Media Awards (EMA). Created with the concept that through television and film, the entire entertainment community could influence the environmental awareness of millions of people through the use of weaving environmental messages within entertainment programming and utilizing "celebrity" for positive role modeling, the EMA has previously honored Pierce Brosnan, Blythe Danner, The Dave Matthews Band, Rob Reiner and John Travolta.
For years, actor and producer, Leonardo DiCaprio, ("Catch Me if You Can," "Gangs of New York," "Titanic") has launched an all-out crusade to halt global warming through his charitable non-profit organization, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. DiCaprio created the foundation in 1998 in part as a vehicle to promote all forms of renewable energy as viable and preferable alternatives to the long-accepted and standard forms of power generation (e.g., nuclear, petroleum, coal, etc.), which DiCaprio says, are destroying the environment.
"Today we have technologies that allow us to use renewable fuel sources," said DiCaprio at an Earth Day rally in Washington, D.C. "Solar technologies are real, proven and in use now; wind power is a mature technology with a successful track record; and the hydrogen economy is the wave of the future. But unless we insist upon their use, technologies like these will never have a chance to develop and will never become a part of everyday life."
Dennis Weaver, best known for his work in television ("McCloud," "Gunsmoke") spends less of his time in Hollywood studios, as he tirelessly lobbies members of the U.S. Congress in an effort to turn the dream of an American "Hydrogen Economy" into a reality. To further his cause, Weaver founded the Institute of Ecolonomics (IOE), which sponsors "The Drive to Survive," a cross-country journey designed to demonstrate the viability and availability of hybrid, hydrogen and alternative fuel vehicles.
"Ecolonomics is a word expressing the understanding that our ecology and economics are two sides of the same coin," explains Weaver on his website. "Ecolonomics is a vision that sees business, government and education working together to achieve a prosperous, sustainable future."
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) recently praised actress Daryl Hannah ("Northfork," "Dancing at the Blue Iguana," "Splash") and rock 'n roll legend Neil Young ("Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young") for helping to bolster awareness of the practicality of biodiesel, the non-toxic biodegradable vehicle fuel that can be manufactured from recycled cooking grease.
This week, Young embarked on his Greendale Tour from Vancouver, British Columbia to Amherst, Massachusetts, fueling his trucks and tour buses with biodiesel.
"Our Greendale Tour is now ozone friendly," Young said. "I plan to continue to use this government approved and regulated fuel exclusively from now on to prove that it is possible to deliver the goods anywhere in North America without using foreign oil, while being environmentally responsible."
At NBB's Eye on Biodiesel Awards at the first annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Palm Springs, California, Daryl Hannah accepted the Influencer Award for using biodiesel in her personal vehicle and for her volunteer work as a spokesperson for biodiesel. Hannah has taken her message to the nation on shows such as The Tonight Show and The O'Reilly Factor.
"We have the technology to reduce greenhouse gasses and grow much of our own fuel," said Hannah in an address to more than 400 biodiesel stakeholders at the Expo. "We have the technology to make sure no kid goes to school breathing dangerous toxins. We have the technology NOW, and that technology is biodiesel. We use biodiesel in our cars to run daily errands, we use it in our work trucks; we use it at high altitude and in super cold temperatures. It works great and smells great!"
NBB also thanked Dennis Weaver, country singer Bonnie Raitt and actor Woody Harrelson for using and promoting biofuels. The folk music duo, Indigo Girls, was praised for using domestically produced biodiesel as part of their "Honor the Earth Tour," focusing on alternative energy and Native American environmental issues. NBB has also begun a dialogue with Walt Disney Studios to explore opportunities for Disney to use biodiesel in its transportation system in Orlando, and to educate its millions of visitors each year.
In addition to leading a renewable energy bicycle tour across Washington State, actor Woody Harrelson ("The People Vs. Larry Flynt," "Natural Born Killers," "White Men Can't Jump") also included the Solar Living Center in his documentary film, "What Every Young Person Should Know."
Actor, director, producer, and long-time conservationist Robert Redford ("Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid") has recently given his name to an environmentally friendly building, erected by the Southern California Natural Resources Council. The building is one of a handful of such facilities built to the country's highest environmental standards using recycled materials and renewable energy sources.
"Right now it is a very unusual building," said Redford at the ribbon cutting ceremony. "But I hope in a few years it will be ordinary."
Hollywood's biggest celebrity powerbroker, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ("The Terminator," "Conan the Barbarian," "Total Recall") has laid out a bold initiative to promote hydrogen fuel cell technology, as well as pump up all other forms of renewable energy technology across the Golden State.
And the list of stars working for green power is not limited to the Hollywood community.
British director Julien Temple, commissioned by Greenpeace UK, produced "The Wind," a documentary film that portrays a bleak future faced without a switch to renewable forms of energy. Temple, who established his reputation with "The Great Rock 'n Roll Swindle" and "The Filth and the Fury" (two documentaries about the British punk rock band, The Sex Pistols) said that with "The Wind," he wanted to pose a question: "Why continue down an energy path to famine, flood, disease, and climate chaos, when offshore wind power can provide a sustainable alternative?"
In Italy, Cinecitta Studios Special Effects Coordinator Daniel Acon ("The Passion of The Christ," "Gangs of New York," "Hannibal") announced plans to spend the summer of 2004 redesigning his estate in Rome, Italy, in order to fully exploit the potential of residential wind power and solar energy systems.
"I want to do the right thing for my family and the environment," said Acon. "And I want to set a positive example that my friends and colleagues at the film studios can follow."
And the list of stars "going for the green" is ever growing.
Like every Academy Award winner with limited time to list all those who need to be thanked, it is impossible to name all the talented artists, who have played a part in bringing renewable energy into the mainstream.