BORN WAR­RIORS

To sup­port World En­vi­ron­ment Day on June 5, we asked five eco-celebri­ties to share what they think needs to hap­pen to stop or, bet­ter still, re­v­erse en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age. From plant­ing trees to div­ing with sharks, these women are us­ing their big pro­files

ELLE (Australia) - - Agenda -

MAG­DALENA ROZE me­te­o­rol­o­gist, TV pre­sen­ter, Planet Ark am­bas­sador and au­thor of Happy & Whole

I started work­ing with Planet Ark six or seven years ago when they ap­proached me to be an am­bas­sador for Na­tional Tree Day. It’s funny be­cause I’ve been pes­ter­ing peo­ple about the en­vi­ron­ment since I was a lit­tle girl. I was the pres­i­dent of the con­ser­va­tion club in pri­mary school, cre­at­ing herb gar­dens and try­ing to get the other kids in­volved in var­i­ous sorts of en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives and ed­u­ca­tion. In the few years I’ve been a me­te­o­rol­o­gist, I’ve seen a mas­sive shift in the weather. The cli­mate change pre­dic­tions I was read­ing about in univer­sity are al­ready hap­pen­ing. They aren’t pre­dic­tions any­more. We’re us­ing more fos­sil fu­els than ever and at the same time we’re cut­ting down rain­forests, the very thing that has been help­ing us out. Trees help com­bat cli­mate change by lock­ing up car­bon and giv­ing us fresh, clean air, but we also need them to pro­vide shade and habi­tat for na­tive wildlife to pre­vent the loss of bio­di­ver­sity – a ma­jor threat to life as we know it. Mil­lions of trees have been planted be­cause of Planet Ark Na­tional Tree Day and it’s a fun, hands-on way to care for the planet.

I’m grate­ful to be in a po­si­tion in the me­dia where I can raise aware­ness around life­style habits, but there are ev­ery­day things all of us can do. You don’t have to over­haul your life. I think when we look at en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues and par­tic­u­larly big-pic­ture things like cli­mate change, it can feel very over­whelm­ing. But if we break it down to small things that are very achiev­able, it re­ally doesn’t re­quire much ef­fort. That’s why Na­tional Tree Day is great be­cause it in­vites us to get back into na­ture, plant a tree and hope­fully it has a bit of a flow-on ef­fect for the rest of the year. At the very least, it will spark a con­ver­sa­tion with kids, be­cause kids are the cus­to­di­ans of the land.

MAGGIE Q ac­tress and an­i­mal ac­tivist work­ing with Peo­ple for the Eth­i­cal Treat­ment of An­i­mals (PETA) and Wil­daid

About six years ago, Wil­daid reached out to me to meet with them know­ing we may have had sim­i­lar ob­jec­tives in the an­i­mal-rights space. They were cor­rect. The group fo­cuses on re­duc­ing de­mand for wildlife prod­ucts with the goal of end­ing the il­le­gal

“Cli­mate change pre­dic­tions I read about in univer­sity are al­ready hap­pen­ing”

wildlife trade in our life­times. Their mis­sion is sim­ple: show con­sumers where their dol­lars are go­ing, and what that de­struc­tion means for the fu­ture – ap­peal to their sense of com­pas­sion and their logic. “When the buy­ing stops, the killing can, too” is not just a slo­gan, it’s the truth. If you don’t af­fect the con­sumer, you’ve al­ready lost the bat­tle.

I have been out in the field with Wil­daid and other groups who fight to pro­tect some of the same an­i­mals, and I’ll tell you, the first time you see an ele­phant or a rhino with its face cut off, or rot­ting like an up­right corpse from poi­son ar­rows, you will never be the same. I re­mem­ber shoot­ing pho­tos from a he­li­copter of a re­cently butchered ele­phant and I could barely see what I was shoot­ing, I was cry­ing so hard. We’re a bru­tally self­ish species.

There’s so much that moves you when you’re in na­ture. Our wild friends deeply af­fect me. I was re­cently in the Galá­pa­gos Is­lands. It’s the only place I’ve been to in the world where the wildlife has no real fear of man. I felt as if I was in a time cap­sule. It was as if I was float­ing, high off the abil­ity to have these en­coun­ters. I thought, “Is this how it could have been be­fore we be­gan to hurt them all, ex­ploit them and en­dan­ger them?” It’s a sober­ing thought.

I fight for ele­phants, rhi­nos, sharks, man­tas and pan­golins (the most trafficked mam­mal in the world). I cam­paign against ex­otic skins, the il­le­gal wildlife trade, fur and dog meat. I also cam­paign for plant-based di­ets as the most im­me­di­ate thing you can do to save our planet. We need to be con­scious of the choices we make, and mind­ful of the resid­ual ef­fect we have on other liv­ing be­ings. I don’t be­lieve our man­date here is to cause suf­fer­ing, I be­lieve it is to al­le­vi­ate it.

NADYA HUTA­GALUNG Aus­tralian-in­done­sian model and en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cate, work­ing with Nat Geo Wild, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme (UNEP)

I got my div­ing li­cence 24 years ago. Un­der the sea it was vi­brant, full of life and colour. A few years later, the same place had changed com­pletely. I was so moved by what I saw that I have never stopped try­ing to high­light the dan­gers of our hu­man im­pact on na­ture.

My lat­est pro­ject with UNEP was help­ing to launch the #Cleanseas cam­paign [with ac­tor Adrian Gre­nier] to elim­i­nate ma­jor sources of marine lit­ter by en­cour­ag­ing gov­ern­ments to pass plas­tic re­duc­tion poli­cies. I’ve been div­ing with (small) sharks... they’re so hum­bling and awe-in­spir­ing. To think that even those fear­some crea­tures are fall­ing vic­tim to our im­pact puts things in per­spec­tive. Who is ac­tu­ally more dan­ger­ous?

I’ve been work­ing with the UN for about two years now as an En­vi­ron­ment Good­will Am­bas­sador. My pas­sion is both in en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cacy and con­ser­va­tion. Gen­er­ally, I hope that through ed­u­ca­tion and ex­po­sure to na­ture, chil­dren will be in­spired to be pas­sion­ate and en­gaged change-mak­ers. By lend­ing my voice, I hope we can bring a cer­tain level of aware­ness about the state of our seas and in­stil a sense of ur­gency to work to­wards pos­i­tive out­comes with gov­ern­ments, cor­po­ra­tions and, most im­por­tantly, in­di­vid­u­als.

My mes­sage to par­ents is to take your kids to ex­plore na­ture on ev­ery hol­i­day pos­si­ble. Shop­ping cen­tres and theme parks do noth­ing to en­rich and in­spire them to want to pro­tect what is theirs.

LAURA WELLS bi­ol­o­gist, con­ser­va­tion­ist, model and Fash­ion Rev­o­lu­tion am­bas­sador

As a model, my pur­pose is to sell you some­thing, usu­ally cloth­ing. For you to spend money on what­ever I’m wear­ing. I don’t tell you where it came from, who made it or what dam­age it does to the en­vi­ron­ment. You see my photo, see the price and pur­chase. As a bi­ol­o­gist and con­ser­va­tion­ist, my pur­pose is to ex­plore and pre­serve our nat­u­ral habi­tats. Teach you to be cu­ri­ous about our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and to pro­tect it into the fu­ture. To open your eyes, change your be­hav­iours, ask the ques­tions and think about how our ac­tions af­fect the world around us.

Two very dif­fer­ent ends of the spec­trum and a po­si­tion not many mod­els find them­selves in. So in­stead of ig­nor­ing the is­sues to our en­vi­ron­ment and the as­so­ci­ated hu­man rights is­sues caused by the fash­ion in­dus­try, I’ve be­come ac­tively in­volved to ed­u­cate on the im­pli­ca­tions your con­sumer de­ci­sions have on our fu­ture. This year I’ve joined forces with Fash­ion Rev­o­lu­tion and Mighty Good Undies to ask, “Who made my clothes?” The cam­paign pri­mar­ily fo­cuses on the poor work­ing con­di­tions a lot of in­dus­try work­ers are sub­jected to just so you can have that $10, “couldn’t make it my­self for that much” T-shirt.

Rais­ing aware­ness about these is­sues, adding a dose of hu­man­ity and show­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts makes peo­ple think twice about their pur­chases and the flow-on ef­fects. Many don’t re­alise that when you just “chuck it away”, there’s no “away”. Away ac­tu­ally lasts for­ever in terms of syn­thetic fi­bres, so that bar­gain $10 polyester shirt will long out­live you at the dump, and when you were wear­ing it, it was pol­lut­ing the ocean with mi­cro plas­tic ev­ery time you washed it. Over­whelm­ing I know, but there are so­lu­tions and I’m a so­lu­tions kinda gal.

Fash­ion Rev­o­lu­tion raises aware­ness of the true cost of fash­ion, shows the world that change is pos­si­ble and cel­e­brates all those in­volved in cre­at­ing a more sus­tain­able fu­ture. We can all make a huge dif­fer­ence to the lives of oth­ers, the en­vi­ron­ment around us and, ul­ti­mately, our own health and well­be­ing, all through the power of our own wal­let. Ed­u­ca­tion is the key to cre­at­ing a bet­ter fu­ture.

JADE HAMEIS­TER stu­dent and Aus­tralian Ge­o­graphic So­ci­ety’s Young Ad­ven­turer of the Year 2016

In April 2016 when I was 14, I be­came the youngest per­son to ski to the North Pole from any­where out­side the last de­gree. Through my ex­pe­ri­ences trav­el­ling across the frozen sea ice on the Arc­tic Ocean, I fell in love with these in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful yet frag­ile parts of our planet. Our po­lar re­gions are like noth­ing you could imag­ine. They’re so clean and largely un­touched by hu­mans. It’s such a priv­i­lege to travel where no hu­man has gone be­fore and truly ex­plore these in­cred­i­ble en­vi­ron­ments.

Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Chan­nel made a TV doc­u­men­tary on my North Pole ex­pe­di­tion that aired in 170 coun­tries last year and now they’re mak­ing a fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary on my Green­land and South Pole ex­pe­di­tions dur­ing 2017. Last June, I was priv­i­leged to be in­vited to at­tend the Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Ex­plor­ers Sym­po­sium in Wash­ing­ton DC. I’ve been in­vited back again this year. The sym­po­sium brings to­gether all the ex­plor­ers and sci­en­tists sup­ported by the Na­tional Ge­o­graphic So­ci­ety. These amaz­ing in­di­vid­u­als from around the world, across a range of fields, meet to share their sto­ries and find ways to col­lab­o­rate on in­no­va­tive projects – from the new tech­nol­ogy they’re us­ing to ex­plore un­charted ter­ri­to­ries to the in­no­va­tive ways they’re pro­tect­ing threat­ened species and en­vi­ron­ments.

The loss of our po­lar re­gions from global warm­ing is not just about there be­ing no more ice or po­lar bears – it’s about the fu­ture of hu­man be­ings on earth. If you take just Green­land’s ice sheet, the sec­ond largest mass of ice on the planet, the most re­cent re­port from the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change found that sus­tained global warm­ing above a thresh­old of 1-4 de­grees would lead to the near-com­plete loss of the ice sheet, caus­ing global sea lev­els to rise up to seven me­tres! This would wipe out a lot of the world’s hab­it­able land for our grow­ing pop­u­la­tion to live and pro­duce food on. That’s re­ally fright­en­ing.

As pos­si­bly the only rep­re­sen­ta­tive of my gen­er­a­tion with first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence in each of earth’s three main po­lar re­gions, I feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity to learn as much as I can about global warm­ing and to play a more ac­tive role in years to come. We’re all ca­pa­ble of mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. We need to stop think­ing about this is­sue as in­di­vid­ual coun­tries and start think­ing as one hu­man race who live on one planet – our home.

“When you just ‘chuck it away’, there’s no ‘away’. Away ac­tu­ally lasts for­ever”

“We need to think as one hu­man race who live on one planet”

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