#KeepItInThe Ground

We have reached the tipping point with the Anthropocene, an era defined as one in which human activities have significantly impacted Earth’s eco-systems.

While oil, gas and coal companies have poured money into denying climate change, others have been standard bearers for the environment for decades, using their platforms and power to educate, illuminate and activate change.

Al Gore, one-time presidential hopeful who won the popular vote but lost the 2000 election due to delegate votes, went on to produce an Academy Award-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006), about global warming which became one of the top ten most successful documentaries in U.S. film history. Since then he has worked tirelessly as a global spokesperson for climate policy shift, renewable energy and international collaboration. His most recent TedTalks provides much positive news about tipping points occurring the accelerated global adoption of non-fossil fuel technologies.

What is most surprising are his findings about Third World countries, where many communities, especially rural ones which never had access to oil and gas-powered electricity are installing solar panels at a rate that blasts through goals and expectations.

This year, Leonardo diCaprio, a celebrity who has been extremely active in the climate change movement, used the opportunity during his Oscar acceptance speech to highlight the urgency of our global situation.

His foundation has donated $45 million to environmental causes, and he spoke this year on the environment at the Paris Climate Summit and the World Economic Forum at Davos. He has been a leader in the Divest from Fossil Fuels Movement as well.

What do you see as the tipping point with climate change? Do you find hope in these celebrity actions and initiatives promising? Have you personally done any actions to #KeepItIntheGround, a project initiated by UK Guardian?

Did you know that you can switch your electricity bill to green tech? (Green Mountain Energy and Ethical Electric are two of many to choose from, even if you have a ConEdison bill…Let us know when you make the switch…)

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  1. Chloe Wang

    I remember watching Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, when it first came out. That was when I realized how much our daily activities can impact the environment. Before watching this documentary, I never really thought about how every little action we take can drastically change something. It made me think about and start doing things differently in order to make a positive impact. I believe that these celebrity actions and initiatives are extremely beneficial because they are always in the public eye. And, what they say always gets the attention of the media. People are constantly following what they say and waiting for the next thing they say. Therefore, by doing good, they are influencing people to follow them and give back to the environment as well.

    • John Wilson

      “Before watching this documentary, I never really thought about how every little action we take can drastically change something.”

      I am glad that you too had a similar reaction like I did. Once you are awake and aware of the things you do, good or bad, there is no unseeing things. It is both a blessing and a curse. The curse is when you realize how many people still walk around with blinders on. The blessing is when you realized you can do something about it. Like many things, it will take time to get to a point in society where the world sees global warming and environmental concerns as a much larger, volatile issue we must all work together to confront. But we are sidetracked by issues we have been told we need to be concerned with.

      Take the US for example; people are more concerned with their country when they should be focusing on what is better for the world. We get caught up in politics, bills, measures to constrain to retain law and order of ourselves that we miss the bigger picture. The world needs us to help it because we have been failing it.

  2. Rhea Goyal

    “The climate change is real” as Leonardo Di Caprio quotes that in this acceptance speech for his much awaited award. This reinforces the fact that a celebrity figure who has worked so hard for this award takes out minutes from his speech to discuss the decline of the climate. 2015 was claimed as the hottest year ever and this has all the things to do with human activities that is exploiting the earth in several ways and this is the earths way of responding. The human species is the most selfish species, we are molding and exploiting the earth to benefit ourselves and make the world a luxurious is our endeavor.

    Al Gore puts our ways of exploiting earth into perspective through his TED talk in which one of the things that stood out to me was the difference between the CO2 on earth as opposed to the CO2 on venus equating to be the same. Nonetheless, the Co2 is trapped in the earths surface as opposed to venus where the Co2 surrounds it present in the atmosphere. Due to this the average temperature difference between the earth and venus is 59 F and 855 F respectively. The CO2 is preserved in the form of natural gas, oil and coal which is daily being exploited by the human race and this is depositing more and more of the CO2 in the atmosphere that is trapping the toxics in the earth itself. This vicious cycle is just one of the contributors of the climate change. The internet is established as the quickest and largest communicator for such issues but it is important to bring about information that is catchy and less time consuming for the human time for them to spend their precious time for understanding the depth of the environmental issue we are getting ourselves into. As Leo states that it may not directly impact us but we are leaving this mess for the children of our children to take care off.

    • John Wilson

      “The human species is the most selfish species, we are molding and exploiting the earth to benefit ourselves and make the world a luxurious is our endeavor.”

      I mention this very thing in regards to California. Smog is a major issue there and I remember as a boy flying back from Missouri with my parents and when I looked out the window and saw the thick haze in the sky, I new we were home. There has to be something more that we all can do to protect the very air that we breath or we might have a future like Total Recall where the air becomes toxic.

  3. Valeria Maxera

    I remember being in school and simply placing my whole class in the theatre to see this movie. It was definitely heartbreaking and scary. I remember wanting to change my whole lifestyle just because of how we human impact the world so much. I believe if it wasn’t for that movie, and my school pursuing the whole green life, I wouldn’t be so conscious about what I do in a day to day basis.
    I believe by celebrities taking into consideration such programs it requires a lot of work because its hard for the whole world to change. But for them to step up and bring light to the problem, it definitely demonstrates how strong this whole problem is. They infact should maybe do more advertising, instead of advertising makeup ads, but for what they do, its better than nothing.

    • John Wilson

      Unfortunately the bigger problem is our government and refusing to accept the damage we are doing. It’s easy to ignore a problem and hope it goes away but the result is a much large mess to clean up. Sadly we will eventually have a natural disaster that will force us all to take action. We have had earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis which have cause destruction but none of them have been great enough for us all to just stop, rethink, and work towards how we as a world can be better to the planet. Hollywood loves creating blockbusters like “Day After Tomorrow” or “San Andres” because it shows just how bad things can be if we continue to ignore the issues at hand.

  4. Christina Murray

    While I am unsure of the sincerity behind celebrity endorsements, I still value the thought behind it. Global warming and climate change is a very scary topic that many are still in denial about. My husband is prior military so we have lived in different parts of the world at various times of the year. To be in Alaska with no snow in winter, or live in Connecticut and have it snow two feet after easter is pure craziness. It is not unheard of to be in the 100’s in California in the winter. I spent most of my life there, and recently it snowed on the beach! I have seen a few documentaries recently discussing the impact of commercial agriculture and climate change. The statistics in regards to beef production and food decomposing in land fills is so alarming! I watched an Inconvenient Truth a while ago, and while it has been criticized I think more people need to be aware of global warming. We live in a world where we worry about a vehicle emissions but are ignoring that our corrupted food system is ruining the planet!

    • John Wilson

      “We live in a world where we worry about a vehicle emissions but are ignoring that our corrupted food system is ruining the planet!”

      I couldn’t agree more. Beyond the government ignoring clement change, they also ignore the dangers of GMO. We are literally changing or DNA with the stuff we are putting in to our bodies. Instead of more money being invested in proper agriculture and clean energy, it is laid in to pharmaceutical companies and security….it’s mind boggling.

  5. John Wilson

    Today when I was at Starbuck’s getting my usual (Grande, iced, coconut latte) I caused a mess on the counter with my drink when adding my habitual dash of cinnamon. When I was done, I quickly got napkins and cleaned up the mess I made making sure to also wipe away other stains that were left from previous java Joe’s (or Joan’s.) A gentleman leaned over and said to me “Well that is very thoughtful of you.” I in turn thanked him and said “I don’t like leaving messes behind.” This small gesture is exactly how I feel about the planet we live on; I am protective, respectful, and grateful for what it provides to humanity and do some (always trying to do more) to keep our planet healthy and happy.

    If you think about it, we live on the back of a giant, magnificent organism that is trying to exist in the universe. Like any bacteria, we the humans can either be a good or bad thing. We could either nurture the planet to help it thrive or we can consume its energy and resources to cause it to die. As a kid I always thought I (and the rest of humanity) in the grand scheme of things are these tiny little forces moving around trying to create change. But how much could one boy (in Gore’s case, one man) do to make a difference?

    I watched “An Inconvenient Truth” when it came out back in 2006 and it scared the heck out of me. As people focus on train wreck reality TV, I think that if anyone really wants to be frightened or jolted, they should watch this movie. Scientist can often over complicate the explanation of why things occur but in this film, pictures and simple facts highlight the direction of where we are going with our climate. One of my favorite scenes is the frog in the boiling water. We are as only aware to the issues as we want to be and we must use our awareness to see what is happening day to day.
    I grew up in southern California in a town called San Bernardino which uses to be (along with most of Los Angeles and Hollywood) a desert. Human’s decided to terraform the landscape by building homes and businesses. They planted foliage like palm trees and lush green lawns. To people who wonder why California is often in droughts, it’s because the land is turn back to what it should be; a desert.

    People like Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio aren’t just talking about change, they act on it and propose methods for change to save our world. Here is a list of just some of the many celebrities who are environmentalist –

    As I go about my way on this wonderful planet, I try to learn more everyday how to be a little bit more mindful of the things I can do to be respectful of the environment. I often talk to others as well about the little things they too could do to help. Every little bit matters just as much as every little bit can destroy. And through ever choice, we must have and stay aware, which is imperative to helping our planet stay alive for future generations.

    For those looking for a way to start –

  6. Alexander Silva

    It’s always very difficult to tell whether a celebrity truly stands for a movement or not. A simple tweet or instagram post doesn’t exactly pin point if the socially acknowledged individual is truly playing their part on impacting. However, I stand by the idea that these celebrities who are essentially a household name (i.e. Kim Kardashian who I’m sure even the Pope knows about) have the power to bring awareness to a demographic to a group of people who need more education on the topic. If it takes @thefatjewish to instagram a post in order to get Billy Bob Joe from Valdosta, Georgia to understand what’s really going on in the world, then by all means I support it.

    The ultimate tipping point for climate change is when people are directly affected by it. When people start waking up to nasty water or cancelled family vacations because their beaches are no longer safe to swim in due to poor water quality, then and only then will we start to see change. This is exactly why these movements begin within communities where individuals come together to make a change.

    Last year, I came up with a proposal of coffee capsules that would eliminate the use of plastic coffee brewing pods. These pods have been proven to wrap around the earth multiple times just by how many are consumed within a year. If we were able to compress the coffee into tablets that expand and disintegrate when in contact with water, the 2nd main import of the US would be a whole lot less damaging to the environment.

    • John Wilson

      First of all, bravo for coming up with a solution to coffee pods. As if we don’t have enough trash already, those things were created for simplicity but you know what they say about good intentions, hell is paved with Keurig cups LOL

      The world is full of consumers which care less about what the product does to create a cleaner planet and more about if the product makes their life easier. To me easy isn’t always better or healthier.

  7. Yiwen Li

    I was so impressed when I’m watching Leonardo diCaprio’s speech at Oscars. First of all, he has finally got the best actor at Oscars, I thought he gonna say many words about his academy award.However, He used this opportunity to talk about global warming, which was impressed me a lot. He specifically mentioned in his speech : ” to dedicate this award to all Aboriginal, ” The Revenant” also shows this side of the world .” This is to let more people know the identity of another Leonardo : Environmental activist. ” DiCaprio Foundation ” focuses its work on four areas , namely: the conservation of biological diversity, marine conservation , wilderness conservation and climate change.
    Environmental pollution has been the subject that can not be ignored , it will be the biggest barrier to restrict human development. Environmental protection has been pressing, many people have joined the ranks to protect the environment, even celebrities are environmentally sound. It is the time we need to make us own efforts to protect our planet.

  8. Kristi Tartaglione

    “An Inconvenient Truth” is one of the first documentaries I watched fully, connected with and understood. I was in 6th grade at the time. The following year I joined the Ecology club and it became an integral part of my life. I became a vegetarian and in summer of 2009 I traveled to Panama and Costa Rica with that Ecology Club. It was when I really began my journey into understanding the world. It’s difficult to have these conversations with people because there are so many people who “don’t believe” in global warming. It’s challenging, I clearly remember my father making comments about Al Gore when the documentary first came out. He since then has altered his opinions a bit but not enough to fully support the “idea” of global warming. It’s people like Leonardo DiCaprio who keep such issues alive among the generations. Every generation adapts differently to the world around them and they all become accustomed to different role models who influence their world. Celebrities have the possibility to influence many and taking their chances to do so as Leo did was an exceptional way to spread awareness and advocate for his value as a celebrity. As silly or inauthentic as celebrity endorsements may seem there are certain people that are being informed and influenced by even the smallest of statements. Climate change is far from reaching it’s turning point which is unfortunate but every small step is a step in the right direction.

  9. shikun liu

    I’ve never watched “An Inconvenient Truth” , but from Al Gore’s Ted Talk, I was really impressed by how much the planet has changed in that short period of time. Also I couldn’t understand why the United States is not part of the Kyoto, being the only country left. The subject cannot be ignored, because we are directly affected by it. Though we can’t change the situation at one time, but we can do somthing little by little. For example, walking or taking public transportations instead of driving; shop for new appliances like refrigerators, washers, and dryers, look for products with the government’s Energy Star label.
    Celebrities like Leonardo diCaprio used the great opportunities to bring the topic to the public to increase the awareness. Hopefully, they could influence the public actions on how to save our environment, and continue to take their active roles.

  10. Morgan Gildersleeve

    It wasn’t until I watched “The Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore several years after it came out, that I became aware of the fact that we as humans are responsible for the health of this planet that we inhabit. I remember this documentary having a particularly profound impact on the way I think–and since then, I have become hyper-aware of my actions and how they affect our planet. I think the idea of global warming is so intangible to most people since it does not directly affect our day to day lives, that most people don’t see the importance of saving our planet. Rather, we abuse it in silly ways that can so easily be fixed. Unfortunately it is a problem that seems far fetched and overwhelming, yet of we each made small changes in our life, we could make such a change. As we have discussed in previous discussions, the power that celebrities have over our specify is immense, and it is awesome to see very public figures such as Leonardo DiCaprio use their platform not nobly to reach the masses, but to actually raise money to create awareness. It is obvious that we are directly influenced by what we see in the media, and there is no denying that his powerful speech at he Oscars caught the ears of many people and got people thinking at he very least. The fact that he emphasized climate change in a very short speech for an award that he had been waiting a long time for speaks volumes to the type of human he is. We should all wake up and realize that climate change is absolutely real, and make appropriate changes in our day to day lives. One person cannot change the world, but if we all put in, the outcome would be incredibly profound.

    • John Wilson

      I still don’t understand how people scoff at the idea of global warming. Everything rooted to the earth is life, and if it is abused and dumped on, eventually it will fight back. Maybe denying the truth is easier then having to live up the damage one might have done but everything eventually catches up to us all. That is why it is easy for me to go to bed at night because I am always looking for new ways to let the world know “I have your back.” 🙂

  11. Anna Mackie

    Al Gore’s documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, was extremely moving for me when I first saw the film in my environmental class in high school. Since then, I have been very conscious of recycling, what I eat, the waste I make, using electricity less frequently, and many other things in an effort to help the environment. Recently I was “surfing the web” and I came across an extremely concerning photograph of a polar bear who is severely mal-nourished and seems to be struggling to survive. I had hoped that the photograph had been photoshopped to show what the effects of global warming could do in the near future but unfortunately, the picture was a real photograph taken by photographer and conservationist, Kerstin Langenberger.

    It is great and extremely important that celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio set examples and speak to the importance of the environment as the world that we live in. With a large following, actors and celebrities have the voice and ability to reach millions, and if each one of those millions of persons makes one change to their daily life habits, whether that be recycling or choosing not to print paper at all (etc), a huge difference and positive impact can be made for the environment.


    Climate change have always been a big issue to the society. When the first time I saw “An Inconvenient Truth”, I was totally shocked. So many basic motions can cause a serious impact to the environment. I remembered that there was a video, which I saw several years ago, it was talking about the result of water pollution. Before watching that video, I thought it should take more than thousands of years to be needed to consider lack of water as a problem. However, the video pointed out that if we do not aware what we’re doing to the environment, the pollution problem will be more extreme and the impact of extreme pollution will be sooner than we can imagine.

  13. Madison Porter

    I believe that the tipping point will include running out of oil and trying to find another natural source to run our societies. The tipping point will be when the rest of the world catches up with the wealthier countries and begins using the same technologies. If the entire world ended up living the way Americans live that will not be a planet left or a species to live on it.
    I remember watching “An Inconvenient Truth” and learning about climate change in the six grade and not worrying too much about it. I was thinking that we would be able to make significant changes by the time I grew up and this is clearly not the case. There are still people that do not believe the scientific evidence that the world is not longer going to survive in the near future.

    There are people out there who follow up and take notice of what celebrities are doing and saying, but they can’t be the only ones making their voices heard. It’s incredible that DiCaprio has donated $45 million to environmental causes, but we need to take action as well. I don’t really believe that there is long-lasting hope in celebrity actions. They definitely have an affect on society and could control the way people live their lives. I have only done small actions for this global cause. If more people keep talking about this issue and backing campaigns like #KeepItInTheGround we could actually see some positive global change.

  14. Tara Shanahan

    Celebrities endorsing environmental change is so important. I immediately thought of so many musicians that help the environment. For example, Willie Nelson starting Farm Aid 28 years ago for working American Farmers and his alternative fuel. Or Moby and his animal rights campaigns as well as his vegan restaurant.
    When you realize how many little things people do to contribute to environmental change it’s really amazing. Then again there’s still a lot of work to do!

  15. Anika P

    It’s shocking that there are still climate change deniers in our society. Donald Trump, one of the leading presidential candidates, has actually claimed that climate change is a hoax created by China. These viewpoints are extremely ignorant and only further stunt our world’s progress towards creating a productive solution for the damage being done to our environment. I really respect that public figures like Leo DiCaprio and Al Gore are using their platforms to publicize such detrimental issues. I think that a lot of Americans have come to accept that truth that global warming is occurring and human activity is the main contributor. However, like with many social issues, I think people feel lost and frustrated about what to do next. Like Al Gore said, it’s important to adjust your daily habits, like using energy-efficient lightbulbs or possibly switching to alternative energy power. But we simultaneously need politicians who can be dedicated to making macro-level changes through legislation. Right now the government is so entrenched in ties to the oil industry that it would be remarkable if we could see any real progress. I don’t understand how some politicians can claim to want to aid the environment, but still accept generous lobbying donations from the oil industry.

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