Celebrity Hot Air Cannot Mask Realities of Climate Debate

Celebrity support for a questionable cause is no substitute for facts and real analysis.

Billionaire Tom Steyer’s newest 30-second ad buy is the latest effort to draw on celebrity support to elect anti-energy candidates. The ad is narrated by actor Woody Harrelson and directed by Black Swan’s Darren Aronofsky. Harrelson claims in the ad, “They told us the world was flat and insisted it was the center of the universe…Now they tell us climate change is a hoax. But the truth is undeniable; this is a fight we will win.”

Steyer’s ad follows an aggressive climate push by Leonardo DiCaprio, who delivered an address at the recent U.N. Climate Summit in New York and just released a third video from his radical environmentalist project Green World Rising.

The glamour of celebrity support, though, cannot mask the realities of the climate policy debate. Although the climate movement touts expert opinion, it is worth remembering that Harrelson, Aronofsky, and DiCaprio are not experts on climate science, economics, or public policy.

These wealthy celebrities gloss over the struggles of people in the developing world who still need more access to energy and electricity from affordable sources such as natural gas, coal and oil.

For example, when Leonardo DiCaprio declared at the U.N. summit that the world needs to make collective efforts to address CO2 emissions, he ignored the fact that over 30 percent of clinics and hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa still lack electricity. Even when health clinics do have power, it is inconsistent and unreliable—outages in Kenya, for example, can last 4.5 hours at a time. The pressing challenge for people who don’t currently have reliable power at hospitals isn’t climate change—it’s access to consistent and affordable electricity.

We should stop taking the word of Hollywood celebrities on complicated policy issues and examine real facts and analyses.


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