Show of hands, who is a fan of Edward Norton? I will take a tally later but for right now let me share all the reasons why I think he is the Mack Daddy (Is it still hip to use that term? Is it still hip to say hip?)
He is a stellar actor with amazing range; he pulls off just about any role convincingly. The guy could be Mr. America – social activist, intelligent (did I mention he graduated from Yale?) looks great in a swim suit…
All of this is wonderful but when I found out that he was a staunch environmentalist and humanitarian who supports such efforts as BP’s Solar Neighbors program, Enterprise Community Partners (on the Board of Trustees) and Friends of the High Line (Board Member) I went looking for even more information.
Norton appeared on the stage in front of thousands in Washington DC this past April at the annual Earth Day Celebration speaking to the need for us, as a generation, to step up and not only demand, but actually go out and fight for change. Stop driving the gas guzzling, emission producing cars, stop eating trans-fat laden foods, stop being lazy and get out there to make a difference in the planet. This video from YouTube, captured that day, is one of my favorites as it embodies his passion for the planet.
After watching it occurred to me that although he was reluctant to be a big time celebrity, the fact that he is allows his voice to be heard in mass. I decided to rent all his films on Netflix; when he gains fame his name and face are more readily recognized allowing him to spend more time motivating all of us to do the right thing by the environment. While adding movies to the queue I came across a four part documentary series from 2005 hosted by Edward Norton called Strange Days on Planet Earth. The series, presented by National Geographic for PBS, details four of the ways our planet is in danger that we may not even realize: Invaders, The One Degree Factor, Predators and Troubled Waters.
Norton narrates and hosts the entire four hour series describing in detail the state of the planet. He is well spoken and convincing but it is clear that he is not just playing some character this time. This is him speaking to all of us.
The series is compelling and visually stunning taking the viewer all over the globe from locations such as Lake Guri, Venezuela, South Africa, The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, to our own back yards in the United States. Invaders details the trouble a foreign insect, plant or animal can cause when they are introduced either purposefully or inadvertently to a new eco-system they were never intended to inhabit. The One Degree Factor discusses how distressed the planet has become due to climate change, that every corner of the globe is affected by the increase of the Earth’s average temperature by one simple degree. Predators showcases the need for this group, not the necessity of destroying them, in order to maintain a natural balance within their prey be it plant or animal.
Troubled Waters, the final part of the series, was perhaps the most disturbing to watch but the most critical as well. Through six separate stories Norton introduces us to the fact that Atrazine, chlorine by-products, mercury, nitrogen and any number of the roughly 2,000 newly synthesized chemicals produced by the US each year could be in some or all of the Earth’s waters. Oceans flow to rivers which in turn may end at lakes. Creeks flow into ponds or reservoirs and all of this water eventually finds its way into our system. With the chemical cocktails being introduced in all water (tap and bottled spring water) it is not surprising to find death rates of whales, miscarriages of women or decay of coral reefs on the rise. Just this morning I was reading a blog written by Julie where she voiced the same concerns.
So what can we do about all of this? We can watch the series and then join any and all organizations in our own area to help spread the word and fight for change. I strongly encourage a visit to the PBS website dedicated to the newly expanded series (two new parts have been released; see your local listings for airtimes). There are suggestions on ways to help and links to organizations across the United States where we can all get involved.
Individually we may not be as widely recognized as Edward Norton but collectively we can and will have an even greater overall impact and that is why I am giving both Norton and the Strange Days on Planet Earth series, Five Leaves!