Activist Laurie David says the government is the last barrier to starting the green revolution.

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Laurie David is the media queen of the environmental movement. As a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council, she organized the Stop Global Warming Virtual March  along with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Robert Kennedy, Jr., an online petition that encourages politicians and corporations to turn their focus to climate change. In addition to HBO documentaries and TBS comedy specials that focus on global warming, David recently produced the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which follows Al Gore on his travels to educate the world about global warming and was also a recent guest editor for Elle magazine‘s “Green Issue” this May. And if that’s not high profile enough for you, Davidjust so happens to also be the wife of “Seinfeld” co-creator and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Larry David. An environmentalist with a sense of humor? Unbelievable.

What do you think of the Bush administration’s response to the environment?
We need to be the world’s leader on this issue. We are the world’s biggest cause of the problem, we contribute more to global warming pollution than any other country and we need to be doing the most to stop it, but we are doing the very least. Washington, D.C., is the last hold out. Part of all my efforts is to put as much pressure on them, on all sides, to force them to start working on a meaningful solution to the problem.

How would they even begin to address it?
The President said we are “addicted to oil.” The first thing he could do to get us off addiction would be to raise fuel economy standards, which he isn’t doing. So that’s, like, a no-brainer. Another thing: the government has fleets of cars. They should mandate that every car purchased by the US government is a hybrid or fuel efficient vehicle unless it’s specifically required for a specific task. If the fire fighter needs an SUV—that’s fine, but those are two things right away he could do to get us off our addiction.

How urgent of a problem is global warming?
For me, the mother of all issues is global warming. Everything else is coming underneath it. It’s the single most urgent issue facing humanity. I mean, David King, Tony Blair’s chief scientist, said it’s a bigger threat than terrorism, and I agree with that. Look on the cover of Vanity Fair today. Look at Time magazine’s cover [on April 3rd]. The truth is the world’s most cautious human beings, which are scientists, have said we have less than 10 years to really seriously slow this thing down. That seems pretty urgent to me.

What do you see as the biggest priority to fix?
Well its power plants and cars. We talked about cars. The other issue is power plants. The technology exists right now to start to reduce CO2 from our power plants, and decisions are being made today that are going to impact CO2 emissions from power plants for the next 60 years. Right now they are building new power plants without carbon controls.

Is there any one leader that you look to that is offering the best ideas or solutions?
I think there are a handful of great people, but one of my personal heroes is Al Gore. He has been crisscrossing the world presenting a briefing on global warming for the last few years, and I was so impressed by it that I made a feature film out of it. It’s called An Inconvenient Truth and it will be in theaters this May. The single most powerful thing people can do to get the word out about global warming is to buy a ticket and bring a friend to that film.

What are some of the day-to-day practices one can do to help the environment?
I drive a hybrid car. I don’t take plastic bags or paper bags from stores; I carry a reusable bag with me. I switched dozens of my light bulbs in my house to compact fluorescent bulbs. Every time I charge my iPod or my cell phone or Blackberry, when I’m done, I pull the charger out of the wall. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing that, and we all need to start doing that. I started a “no idle rule” at my carpool lane at my kid’s school.

A “no idle rule”?
Every school and temple and church in this country has carpool lanes and people line up in their cars and they sit there with the motor running—they are wasting gas and adding CO2 into the atmosphere. You should start a rule at your school or church, the no idle rule, which means you have to turn your car off. Some of those cars are waiting there five, 10, 20 minutes, waiting for the kids to come out. They are all running. They all need to open their windows and turn the motor off.

What do you think the earth will look like in 2100?
I hope it will be green and lush and beautiful with snowy winters and warm summers. That’s my hope.

Where have environmentalists gone wrong in the past with regards to getting their message out?
My answer to that would be in communication and how they communicate, possibly. Most people in the environmental communities are scientists or lawyers, and they are not necessarily the best communicators. And that’s one area where I think they can do better.

What are you plans for Earth Day?
My plans are to try to get everybody to watch television because HBO is premiering Too Hot Not To Handle a one-hour documentary on the effects of global warming, and I executive produced it. So I’m trying to get everybody to watch it. And if you don’t get HBO yourself, go to someone else’s house and have a house party and watch this one-hour film.

Originally published April 22, 2006


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