Avatar director James Cameron calls out lawmakers for reluctance to talk in terms of climate change


After speaking last week with lawmakers in Washington, ‘Avatar’ director James Cameron reportedly came away with the sense that they believe an energy and climate bill “will be a nonstarter if even it includes the word ‘climate change’ or ‘sustainability.’” Have the fossil fuel interests and the influence of the global warming denial machine on public opinion made Washington wary about telling the truth in talking about the problem? If so, “It completely ignores the elephant in the room that we’re all dealing with,” he told the LA Times.

A few excerpts from media coverage:

‘Avatar’ Director James Cameron: Climate Change as Great as Any Threat Since World War II

CNSNews.com, April 22

Academy Award-winning Director James Cameron said that climate change is “as great as the threat” the United States faced in World War II. His comments were made during a panel discussion about environmental policy on Capitol Hill with columnist Tom Friedman of the New York Times, actress Sigourney Weaver, and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. 

“I spoke to leaders today that said we can’t use the term climate change,” Cameron said on April 15. “It’s death. It’ll kill the bill. It’ll be still-born, strangled it in its crib by calling it, associating it with climate change. I say, ‘We have to wake up. We have to wake up and call it what it is.’” …

Cameron confronts the climate crisis
‘Avatar’ director takes eco message beyond multiplex

Variety, April 22

James Cameron trekked to Capitol Hill last week for a series of events and meetings tied to the environment. But after speaking to lawmakers, the sense he came away with was that an energy and climate bill “will be a nonstarter if even it includes the word ‘climate change’ or ‘sustainability.’”

It was a sobering reminder that, despite the buildup to Earth Day, Washington is still wary of action on global warming.

“If we can’t even talk about the problem, what are we going to do about it?” Cameron asked, rhetorically, in an interview with Variety earlier this week.

Over the next few days, Cameron will be on somewhat of a blitz to try to make sure that the message of “Avatar” is magnified beyond the multiplex. … [O]n Saturday, he will speak at the annual meeting of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and on Sunday he is scheduled to speak at the Climate Rally on the National Mall in Washington. …

It’s a bit ironic that “Avatar,” with its underlying theme of “sustainability,” to use the term, became the highest grossing movie of all time even while recent polls show Americans have a declining belief that global warming is manmade, or even that it exists at all.

Cameron cited the statistics himself: In 2008, half of Americans thought climate change was real and caused by humans, now it is at one- third. “I think emotionally, they know the truth, but intellectually, they are in denial,” he said.

Cameron said that the perception, “fostered by many on the right,” is that there cannot be an economic recovery and climate action at the same time. He blames a “very well funded and organized denial machine,” backed by oil companies and other fossil fuel industries, to try discredit the science community’s consensus.

James Cameron: The ‘Avatar’ sequel will dive into the oceans of Pandora

Los Angeles Times, April 20

In the particular case of “Avatar,” I found there’s a call to action and a sense of duty that’s emerged from it. It wasn’t my intention going into [the film] to do that. I figured I’d be on vacation right now. I figured I’d make my big statement with the movie and let everyone else sort out what to do. Turns out there aren’t that many people figuring out what to do.

The leaders have been scared off, people of conscience in our leadership in Washington have been scared off by the right and the fossil fuel lobbies. They won’t even use the term “sustainability” or “climate change” in an energy bill, which is ludicrous on its face. It completely ignores the elephant in the room that we’re all dealing with. The average American doesn’t even believe climate change is real, they think it’s all a hoax. Two years ago, 50% of Americans thought climate change was real and thought it was human caused. Now we’re down to a third. That’s the work of a very well-funded campaign to create a climate of denial in the media. You’ve got to work against that.

Earlier CSW posts:
James McCarthy and Tim Wirth: Time for Obama to Set the Record Straight on Climate Change

Hansen: Obama must defend climate scientists and “facing the difficult truth of climate science”

Obama State of the Union evasive and inadequate on climate change and climate science

A New Year’s resolution for Obama: Figure out how to talk to the public about climate change

NY Times editorial echoes our view that Obama must speak out on climate change threat

President Obama should lead in talking about the consequences of inaction on climate change

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