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Worldchanging Interview: Laurie David, Global Warming Activist

stopglobalwarming.orgLaurie David is a producer turned global warming activist who has
brought us An Inconvenient Truth, the HBO documentary Too Hot Not to Handle, and the comedy special Earth to America. She is also the
founder of the Virtual March on global warming. (The march is just shy of 500,000 people. Help it get there by joining here!) Ms. David was in Madison yesterday, and we had a chance to talk to her.

David Zaks: How close are we, and what is needed to reach a tipping point where the population is educated on global warming and taking action to reduce its effects?

Laurie David: I think we are getting really close. With every severe weather event that happens in this country we are going to get that much closer. Once people get educated, which I think the films are helping to do, people will connect the dots more quickly. I think Hurricane Katrina was a seminal moment in this fight. People very quickly got what global warming meant, and unfortunately the weather is going to keep cooperating. I think we are getting there. I hope we are getting there. We have to get there.

DZ: Do you feel that the media, with everything that is happening in Hollywood is preaching to the choir, or do you think they are reaching people who would not traditionally be interested in these types of issues?

LD: I think it is becoming clearer and clearer that this isn't about politics. This is a moral issue. This is personal. When we feel the effects of global warming, theyï¿œre not picking which state to go to. When the electricity goes out, and we are in a horrible heat wave, it is not going to know the difference between whether you voted Republican or Democrat. I donï¿œt even believe that it is an environmental issue anymore. This is a national security issue, a public health issue, and an economic issue that affects everyone. Part of what I am trying to do is to get people to realize that. If it becomes the purveyance of just one group of people, or just one thing, we are in big trouble. If you look at what is happening out there with John McCain being a big voice, and now Schwarzenegger being a big voice -those are two pretty prominent Republicans- and the evangelical community is really starting to step-up and address global warming issues, it gives me hope that we are getting to where we need to get to.

Chad Monfreda: Your movie is one of the things helping the choir to get bigger. What do you think the priorities should be for those of us who are already in the choir?

LD: One priority has to be public outreach because people have been so grossly misinformed that it is critical that we change that. If you think about the money spent by Exxon-Mobil to propagate misinformation, we still have a lot of work to do. One question that I get everywhere is, "What do you say when people say it is a natural cycle?" Well, it is not a natural cycle. This is science-based, but we all have to work on continuing to reach out to people so that they learn and understand that.

DZ: We hear that you have a new book out that focuses on personal actions that people can take to reduce their carbon footprints. What do you see as a way to bridge those personal actions to the globally systemic changes that are needed to become a more sustainable society?

LD: I don't believe global action will happen without personal action. I believe that it starts with one person. Government isn't going to change until people demand it, and how do you get people demanding it?

DZ: How do you get those people together?

LD: The way that I know how to do it is through movies, books, comedy, and popular culture magazines. Trying to the message out there in a way they haven't heard or seen it before. New messengers to try to break the clichés of what people perceive what an environmentalist looks like or sounds like and to try to reach as many people as possible. Al Gore tried to build the movement one person at a time going to cities and doing the slide show. Now we have taken that and have made a movie out of it so millions of people can see it. We are trying to build a movement, the virtual march. A half-million people have already signed on.

CM: What's the virtual march about?

LD: It's at You sign up and you get counted as somebody who is marching. We communicate with you once or twice a month and tell you how global warming is affecting you or some great solution. Hopefully you send that to four people and then those four people send it to four people...and movements get built. This problem requires a giant movement in this country. I am just one person trying to get the word out and get people organized.

CM: I hear that there are really positive signs in other countries, like Sweden and Norway.

LD: They have made it mandatory viewing for all their schools to see An Inconvenient Truth, and that is great! The rest of the world is doing a hell of a lot more than we are. They are much more engaged on this issue than we are, and I find that personally humiliating. We are the biggest cause of this problem, and we are doing the least about it. How do you inspire other people to act if you show no leadership? We have to show leadership here, and if the federal government won't do it, then we will have to embarrass them into doing it. So our cities are doing things, our mayors are doing things, our governors are things, and that is good. Companies do things when the customer demands it, so we need that action also. That is why I talk about toilet paper. It has to be unacceptable that we cut virgin trees down to make toilet paper and paper towels. Why are we still doing that? It is insane to me.

CM: It isn't for the lack of business opportunities.

LD: This is the greatest business opportunity, and we need to make it happen as fast as possible.

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Well, your article about the global warming is really very threatening!!! I've recently returned from the Emirates, and you know, the heat there was so terrible that I couldn't even hide from it in the Dubai hotel I stayed in!!!! :) Will this heat be universal???

Posted by: massyandra on 4 Oct 06

my class has jut started learning about Global Warming and i think it is gonna get worse if we dont dont get the message around to people, How do we find an interesting way to get people around my age (14) and older or younger? They NEED @ KNOW NOW other wise we are gonna die it is a realli scary thought

Posted by: Kirsty on 16 Oct 06

Hey it is Kirsty again,
do you have any booklets or any stuff about global warming that you can send to me let me know

Posted by: Kirsty on 16 Oct 06

You know that Global Warming is the single biggest threat to the human race outdside of hate and ignorance. Laurie David has done and is doing a fantastic job BUT she needs help in getting the message out there.

I would like for everyone to meet the world's greatest Polar Explorer Will Steger at Will Steger is going to do a 1200 mile Arctic Expedition in Februrary 07 that will show the world once and for all the cultural face of Global Warming. You can follow Will Steger daily as he uses cutting edge digital technology to send the real live images back to allthe computers and TV's and Ipods all over the world. BUT the real neat thing is that all students and educators, all over the world, will have access to the FREE EDUCATION and online lesson plans to learn about Global Warming from a man who has been to the top and bottom of the world and can explain it better than anyone. Go to and get your school signed up. The students of today are the hope for tomorrow.Will Steger is called "The Jacque Cousteau of the Poles' and for good reason. He is one of the real true eye witnesses to the Climate Change and he has been reporting on this for over 40 years. Tune in and sign up. We can all pull together to save ourselves.

Posted by: Edward on 26 Oct 06

And inextricably linked to the climate crisis we face is a global water crisis. Over 1 billion people already do without potable water, and that number is estimated to grow as population grows and the demand for fresh water which is a finite source increases.

Water signifies purity, peace, serenity, and is the essence of our souls. It is what sustains us as the air we breathe. Water is essential for all life forms. For example it makes up 60 to 70% by weight of all living organisms and is essential for photosynthesis. The sustainability of all life on Earth is determined chiefly by the presence of water and the reliability of the cycles that keep it unchanged. Water covers 75% of the Earth's surface. Nearly 98% of the Earth's water is in the oceans, making it unusable by humans because of its saline content. Fresh water makes up less than 3% of water on Earth, with over two thirds of it tied up in polar ice caps and glaciers. Fresh water lakes and rivers make up only 0.009% of water on Earth and ground water makes up 0.28%, and we are wasting and polluting it to the point where it is unusable by humans, but many have no choice.

So how do we manage it efficiently as our population nearly doubles, and our behavior only exacerbates the drought and overuse that will lead us to catastrophe? The drought currently in Australia and many parts of the horn of Africa is killing people. Farmers are committing suicide because this drought has lost them everything.

Climate change is already drying up rivers in China, Brazil, and countries worldwide making water sources scarce as well as melting glaciers at a faster rate, and may lead to worldwide wars for water, perhaps within the next thirty years.

So while so many discuss only peak oil and wars in the Middle East for oil, the current situation regarding the scarcity of water, it's privatization by corporations who wish to commoditize a resource that is a human right, and the effects of that privatization (backed by the World Bank) combined with global warming that is killing people are reaping is not getting the attention it deserves.

This is the most most important moral issue for our future sustainability. Simply put, without water we die. And I do know how hopeless so much can seem to be to us each day, but if we already HAVE what is neccessary to survive and it is simply a matter of us opening our hearts to get it to those who need it, we MUST do it. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all who carry that hope to others.

Posted by: Jan on 29 Oct 06



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